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The Franco -German War 






I — 



By Field-Marshal 





Except in a few instances, such as Meuse for Maas, 
Treves for Trier, Alsace for Elsass, and Lorraine for 
Lothringen, the names in the text and the accompany- 
ing map correspond. 

Our best acknowledgments are due to Captain Percy 
Schletter, of the King's Regiment, for valuable assist- 
ance in correcting proofs of the entire work. 


Field-Maeshal von Moltke began this history of 
the War of 1870-71 in the spring of the year 1887, and 
during his residence at Creisau he worked at it for 
about three hours every morning. On his return to 
Berhn, in the autumn of that year, the work was not 
quite finished, but he completed it by January, 1888, 
at Berlin, placed it in my hands, and never again 
alluded to the matter. 

The origin of the book was as follows. I had sev- 
eral times entreated him, but in vain, to make use of 
his leisure hours at Creisau in noting down some of 
his rich store of reminiscences. He always objected, 
in the same words : " Everything official that I have 
had occasion to write, or that is worth remembering, 
is to be seen in the Ai'chives of the Staff Corps. My 
personal experiences had better be buried with me." 
He had a dislike to memoirs in general, which he was 
at no pains to conceal, saying that they only served to 
gratify the writer's vanity, and often contributed to 
distort important historical events by the subjective 
views of an individual, and the intrusion of trivial 
details. It might easily happen that the character of 
a man which in history stood forth in noble simplicity 
should be hideously disfigured by the narrative of 
some personal experiences, and the ideal halo which 
had surrounded him be destroyed. And highly char- 
acteristic of Moltke's magnanimity are the words he 


once uttered on such an occasion, and which I noted 
at the time : "All that can be published of the history 
of a war is necessarily colored by the event ; but it is 
a pious and patriotic duty never to disturb the prestige 
which connects the glory of our army with certain 
high personages." 

Not long after our arrival at Creisau, early in 1887, 
I repeated my suggestion. In reply to my request that 
he would write an account of the campaign of 1870-71, 
he said: "You have the official history of the war. 
That contains everything. To be sure," he added, 
" that is too full of detail for the general run of readers, 
and far too technical. An abridgment must be made 
some day." I asked him whetner he would allow me 
to lay the work on his table, and next morning he had 
begun the narrative contained in this volume, compar- 
ing it as he went on with the official history, and car- 
ried it through to the end. 

His purpose was to give a concise account of the 
war. But, while keeping this in view, he involuntarily 
— as was inevitable from his position — contemplated 
the task from his own standpoint as Chief of the Gen- 
eral Staff, and arranged events in connection with a 
general scheme which could only be known at head- 
quarters. Thus this work, which was undertaken in 
all simplicity of purpose, as a popular history, is prac- 
tically from beginning to end the expression of a pri- 
vate opinion of the war from the Field-Marshal himself. 

The Appendix : " On a supposed Council of "War in 
the Wars of William I. of Prussia," was wi'itten in 
1881. In a book by Fedor von Koppen, " Manner und 
Thaten, vaterlandische Balladen" {Men and Deeds: 
Patriotic Songs), which the poet presented to the Field- 
Marshal, there is a poem entitled, "A German Council 
of War at Versailles " (with a historical note appended), 


describing an incident wliicli never occurred, and 
which, under the conditions by which the relation of 
the Chief of the Staff to his Majesty was regulated, 
never could have occurred. To preclude any such 
mistakes for the future, and to settle once and for all 
the truth as to the much-discussed question of the 
Council of War,* the Field-Marshal wrote this paper, to 
which he added a description of his personal experience 
of the battle of Koniggratz. It is this narative which, 
shortly after the writer's death, was published in 
the Munchener Allgemeine Zeitung, in the somewhat 
abridged and altered form in which the Field-Marshal 
had placed it at the disposal of Professor von Treit- 
schke the well-known historian. 

Count Helmuth von Moltke, 

Major and Adjutant to his 
Imperial Majesty. 

Beklin, June 25th, 1891. 

* He alludes to it on p. 218, footnote. 


Fighting on the Frontier. 

Preparations for "War .... 

The Engagement at Weissenberg (August 4tli) 

The Battle of Worth (August 6th) 

The Battle of Spicheren (August 6th) 

The German Army wheels to the Eight 

The Battle of Colombey— Nouilly (August 14th) 

The Battle of Vionville— Mars-la-Tour (August 16th) 

The Battle of Gravelotte— St. Privat (August 18th) 

New Distribution of the Army 

The Army of Chalons .... 

The Battle of Beaumont (August 30th) 

The Battle of Sedan (September 1st) . 




The Advance on Paris and Capitulation op Metz. 

The Sortie from Metz (August 26th) .... 103 

The Battle of Noisseville (August 31st) ... 106 

Change of Administration in Paris .... 114 

General Vinoy's Eetreat ..... 117 

The Third Army and the Army of the Meuse march on Paris 120 

The Investment of Paris (September 19th) . . . 125 

The First Negotiations for Peace .... 129 

The Taking of Toul (September 23rd) .... 130 

The Siege of Strasburg (September 28th) ... 132 

Operations round Paris to the 18th of October . . 139 


The Battle of Artenay (October 10th) 
Engagement at Orleans (October 11th) 
The Taking of Soissons (October 15th) 
The Storming of Chateaudun (October 18th) 
A Sortie towards Malmaison (October 21st) 
The Storming of Le-Bourget (October 30th) 
Sortie from Metz on Bellevue (October 7th) 
Capitulation of Metz (October 27th) 




Operations in the East and on the Loire. 

New Distribution of the Army .... 167 

Operations of the Fourteenth Corps in the South-East (October) 167 

The Taking of Schlettstadt (October 24th) ... 174 

The Taking of Breisach (November 10th) ... 175 

The Taking of Verdun (November 9th) . . . 176 

The Advance of the First and Second Armies in November . 178 

The Engagement at Coulmiers (November 9th) . . 182 

The Grand Duke's Movements .... 188 

The Position of Affairs in the Second Army Corps (latter half 

of November) . . . . . . . 190 

Battle of Beaune-la-Eolande (November 28th) ^ . . 193 

The Advance of the Army of the Loire to the Relief of Paris 198 

The Battle at Loigny — Poupry (December 2nd) . . 200 


Fighting round Paris. 

Paris in November ...... 206 

The Attempt to Eelease the Army of Paris (November 30th 

and December 2nd) ..... 209 

The Advance of the First Army in November . . 219 


The Battle of Amiens (November 17th) 

The Taking of La-Fere (November 27th) 

The Taking of Diedenhof (November 24th) 

The Investment of Belfort in November 

Battle of Orleans (December 3rd and 4th) 

The German Advance on the South, East, and "West 

The Grand Duke's Battle (December 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th) 

The Interruption of Serious Offensive Operations in December 

The Fourteenth Corps in December 

The First Army in December 

The Taking of M^zi^res 

Paris in December 

The Fight at Le Bourget (December 21st) 

The Reduction of Mont-Avron (December 27th) 




Active Operations in the Provinces. 

The Army of the East under General Bourbaki 

The Advance on Le-Mans 

Battle of Le-Mans (10th, 11th, and 12th of January) 

Operations on the North of Paris during January 

The Battle of Bapaume (January 3rd) 

Actions on the Lower Seine . . . 

Occupation of P^ronne 

Battle of St. Quentin (January 19th) . 

Operations at the South-eastern seat of War up to 17th of 

January .... 
Transfer of the French Eastern Army to the South-eastern 

Seat of War, towards the end of December 
Action of Villersexel (January 9th) 
Battle of the Lisaine (January 15th to 17th) 
The Bombardment of Paris (January, 1871) 
Battle of Mont-Val4rien (January 19th) 
The Bombardment of Paris till the Armistice 






The Progress of the War in the South and West. 


The Army of the South under General von Manteuffel . 374 

General Hann von Weyhern's March on Dijon . . 399 

Occupation of the Departments of Doubs, Jura, and Cote-d'Or 401 

The Siege of Belfort ...... 402 


Surrender and Peace. 
The Armistice ....... 410 

The Return March of the German Army . . . 416 


Memorandum on the Councils of War said to have been 

held during the Wars under King Willlim . 423 




The days are gone by when, for dynastical ends, 
small armies of professional soldiers went to war to 
conquer a city, or a province, and then sought winter 
quarters or made peace. The wars of the present day 
call whole nations to arms, there is scarcely a family 
that does not suffer by them. The entire financial 
resources of the State are appropriated to the pm'- 
pose, and the different seasons of the year have no 
bearing on the unceasing progress of hostilities. As 
long as nations continue independent of each other 
there will be disagreements that can only be settled by 
force of arms ; but, in the interest of humanity, it is 
to be hoped that wars will become less frequent, as 
they have become more terrible. 

Generally speaking, it is no longer the ambition of 
monarchs which endangers peace; the passions of 
the people, its dissatisfaction with interior conditions 
and affairs, the strife of parties, and the intrigues of 
their leaders are the causes. A declaration of war, so 
serious in its consequences, is more easily carried by a 
large assembly, of which none of the members bear 
the sole responsibility, than by a single man, however 


high his position ; and a peace-loving sovereign is less 
rare than a parliament composed of wise men. The 
gTeat wars of the present day have been declared against 
the wish and will of the reigning powers. Now-a- 
days the Bourse has assumed such influence that it has 
the power to call armies into the field merely to protect 
its interests. Mexico and Egypt have been swamped 
with European armies simply to satisfy the demands 
of the haute finance. To-day the question, " Is a na- 
tion strong enough to make war ? " is of less impor- 
tance than that, " Is its Government powerful enough 
to prevent war ? " Thus, united Glermany has, up to 
now, used her strength only to maintain European 
peace ; a weak Government at the head of our neighbor- 
ing State, must, on the other hand, be regarded in the 
light of a standing menace to peace. 

The war of 1870-71 arose from just such relations. 
A Napoleon on the throne of France was bound to 
establish his rights by political and military successes. 
Only for a time did the victories won by French arms 
in distant countries give general satisfaction; the 
triumphs of the Prussian armies excited jealousy, they 
were regarded as arrogant, as a challenge; and the 
French demanded revenge for Sadowa. The liberal 
spirit of the epoch was opposed to the autocratic 
Government of the Emperor ; he was forced to make 
concessions, his civil authority was weakened, and one 
fine day the nation was informed by its representatives 
that it desired war with Germany. 


The wars carried on by France on the other side of 
the ocean, simply for financial ends, had consumed 
immense sums and had undermined the discipline of 
the army. The French were by no means archiprets 


for a great war, but the Spanish succession to the 
throne, nevertheless, had to serve as a pretext to declare 
it. The French Reserves were called to arms July 
15th, and only four days later the French declaration 
of war was handed in at Berlin, as though this were 
an opportunity not to be lost. 

One division was ordered to the Spanish frontier as 
a corps of observation ; only such troops as were abso- « 
lutely necessary were left in Algiers and in Civita 
Vecchia ; Paris and Lyons were sufficiently garrisoned. 
The entire remainder of the army : 332 battalions, 220 
squadrons, 924 cannon, in all about 300,000 men, 
formed the army of the Rhine. This was divided into 
eight corps, which, at any rate in the first instance, 
were to be directed by one central head, without any 
kind of intervention. The Imperator himself was the 
only person to assume this difficult task; Marshal 
Bazaine was to command the army as it assembled, 
until the Emperor's arrival. 

It is very probable that the French were counting 
on the old dissensions of the German races. True, 
they dared not look upon the South Glermans as allies, 
but they hoped to reduce them to inactivity by an early 
victory, or even to win them over to their side. Prussia 
was a powerful antagonist even when isolated, and her 
army more numerous than that of the French, but this 
advantage might be counterbalanced by rapidity of 

The French plan of campaign was indeed based on 
the delivery of unforeseen attacks. The strong fleets 
of war and transport ships were to be utilized to land 
a considerable force in Northern Prussia, and there 
engage a part of the Prussian troops, while the main 
body of the army, it was supposed, would await the 
French attack behind the fortresses on the Rhine. The 


Frencli intended to cross the Rhine at once, at and 
below Strasburg, thus avoiding the gi'eat fortresses; 
and also, at the start, preventing the South-Grerman 
army, which was destined to defend the Black Forest, 
from uniting with the North-Grermans. To execute 
this plan it would have been imperative to assemble 
the main forces of the French army in Alsace. Rail- 
way accommodation, however, was so inadequate that 
in the first instance it was only possible to carry 100,- 
000 men to Strasburg ; 150,000 had to leave the rail- 
ways near Metz, and remain there till they could be 
moved up. Fifty thousand men were encamped at 
Chalons as reserves, 115 battahons were ready to march 
as soon as the National Guard had taken their places 
in the interior. The various corps were distributed as 
follows : — 

Imperial Guard, General Bourbaki — Nancy. 

First Corps, Marshal MacMahon — Strasburg. 

Second Corps, General Frossard — St. Avoid. 

Third Corps, Marshal Bazaine — Metz. 

Fourth Corps, General Ladmirault — Diedenhofen. 

Fifth Corps, General Failly — Bitsch. 

Sixth Corps, Marshal Canrobert — Chalons. 

Seventh Corps, General Felix Douay; — Belfort. 

Thus there were only two corps in Alsace, and five 
on the Moselle ; and, on the day of the declaration of 
war, one of these, the Second Corps, was pushed for- 
ward close to the German frontier, near St. Avoid and 
Forbach. This Second Corps, however, received in- 
structions not to engage in any serious conflict. 

The regiments had marched out of quarters incom- 
plete as to numbers, and insufficiently equipped. 
Meanwhile the reserves called out to fill their place had 
choked the railway traffic ; they crowded the depots, 
and filled the railway stations. 


The progress to their destination was delayed, for it 
was often unknown at the railway stations where the 
regiments to which the reserves were to be sent were 
at the time encamped. When they at last joined they 
were without the most necessary articles of equipment. 
The corps and divisions had no artillery or baggage, 
no ambulance, and only a very insufficient number of 
officers. No magazines had been estabhshed before- 
hand, and the troops were to depend on the fortresses. 
These were but ill-supphed, for in the assured expecta- 
tion that the armies would be almost immediately sent 
on into the enemy's country they had been neglected. 

In the same way the Staff-officers had been provided 
with maps of Germany, but not of their own provinces. 
The Ministry of War in Paris was inundated' with 
claims, protestations, and expostulations, and finally it 
was left to the troops to help themselves as best they 
could. On se debrouillera was the hope of the authori- 

When the Emperor arrived at Metz, a week after the 
declaration of war, the regiments were not yet com- 
plete, and it was not even exactly known where whole 
divisions were at that time encamped. The Emperor 
ordered the troops to advance, but his Marshals de- 
clared that the condition of the troops made this 
impossible for the time being. 

It was gradually dawning upon them, that instead 
of attacking the enemy in his country, they would have 
to defend their own. Rumor had it, that a strong 
army of the enemy had assembled between Mayence 
and Coblentz ; instead of sending reinforcements from 
Metz to Strasburg, they were ordered to proceed from 
the Rhine to the Saar. The determination to invade 
South Germany was already abandoned ; the fleet had 
sailed round, but without any troops to land. 


Germany had been surprised by the declaration of 
war, but she was not unprepared. The possibility of 
such an event had been foreseen. 

When Austria had separated her interests from those 
of the other German States, Prussia undertook the sole 
leadership, and paved the way to more intimate rela- 
tions with the South-German States. The idea of 
national unification had been revived, and found an 
echo in the patriotic sentiments of the entire people. 

The means of mobilizing the North-German army 
had been reviewed year by year, in view of any changes 
in the military or political situation, by the Staff, in 
conjunction with the Ministry of War. Every branch 
of the administration throughout the country had been 
kept informed of all it ought to know of these matters. 
The Berlin authorities had hkewise come to a confiden- 
tial understanding with the army chiefs of the South- 
German States on all important points. It had been 
conceded that Prussia was not to be reckoned on for 
the defence of any particular point, as the Black Forest 
for instance ; and it was decided that the best way of 
protecting South Germany would be by an incursion 
into Alsace across the central part of the Rhine ; which 
could be backed up by the main forc^ assembled at 
that point. 

The fact that the Governments of Bavaria, Wiirtem- 
berg, Baden, and Hesse, denuding their own countries 
as it were, were ready to place then* contingents under 
the command of King William, proves their entire con- 
fidence in the Prussian generals. 

As soon as this understanding was arrived at the 
other preparations could be made. The orders for 
marching, and travelling by rail or boat, were worked 
out for each division of the army, together with the 
most minute directions as to theii* different starting 


points, the day and horn- of departm-e, the duration of 
the journey, the refreshment stations, and place of 
destination. At the meeting-point cantonments were 
assigned to each corps and division, stores and maga- 
zines were established ; and thus, when war was de- 
clared, it needed only the Royal signature to set the 
entire apparatus in motion with undistui-bed precision. 
There was nothing to be changed in the directions 
originally given ; it sufficed to carry out the plans pre- 
arranged and prepared. 

The mobilized forces were divided into thi'ee inde- 
pendent armies on a basis worked out by the general 
of the Prussian staff. 

The First Army, under the command of General von 
Steinmetz, consisted of the Seventh and Eighth Corps, 
and one division of cavahy; 60,000 men all told. It was 
ordered to encamp at Wittli'^h and form the right wing. 

The Second Army, under tne command of Prince 
Frederick Charles, was 131,000 strong, and constituted 
the central army. It consisted of the Third, Fourth, 
and Tenth Corps of Guards, and two divisions of 
cavalry. Its meeting-point was in the vicinity of 
Hombiir^x p.riA N"unkirr>hon. 

The Thii'd Army, under the command of the Crown 
Prince of Prussia, was to form the left wing, near Lan- 
dau Rv^ Rastatt, a strength of about 130,000 men. It 
consisted of the Fifth and Eleventh Prussian, and the 
First and Second Bavarian Corps, the Wiirtemberg and 
the Baden Field Divisions, and one division of cavalry. 

The Ninth Corps, consisting of the 18th and the 
Hesse divisions, was united with the Twelfth Royal 
Saxon Corps to form a reserve of 60,000 men, and 
was encamped before MnvpTipp, to reinforce the Sec- 
ond Army, which was thus brought up to the strength 
of 194,000 men. 


The three armies combined numbered 384,000 men. 

There were still the First, Second, and Fourth Corps, 
100,000 men ; but they were not at first included, as 
the means of railway transport were engaged for 
twenty-one days. 

The 17th Division and the Landwehr troops were 
told off to defend the coast. 

During the night of July 16th the Royal order for 
the mobilization of the army was issued, and when His 
Majesty arrived in Mayence a fortnight later, he found 
300,000 men assembled on and in front of the Rhine. 

In his plan of war, submitted by the Chief of the 
Gi-eneral Staff, and accepted by the King, that of&cer 
had his eye fijj:ed, from the first, upon the capture of 
the enemy's capital, the possession of which is of more 
importance in France than in other countries. On the 
way thither the hostile forces were to be driven as 
persistently as possible back from the fertile southern 
states into the narrower tract on the north. 

But above all the plan of war was based on the 
resolve to attack the enemy at once, wherever found, 
and keep the German forces so compact, that a superior 
force could always be brought into the field. By what- 
ever special means these plans were to be^accompUshed, 
was left to the decision of the hour ; the advance to 
the frontiers alone was pre-ordained in every detail. 

It is a delusion to believe that a plan of war may be 
laid for a prolonged period and carried out in every 
point. The first collision with the enemy changes the 
situation entirely, according to the result. Some things 
decided upon wiU be impracticable; others, which 
originally seemed impossible, become feasible. AU 
that the leader of an army can do, is to get a clear view 
of the circumstances, to decide for the best for an un- 
known periods and carry out his purpose unflinchingly. 


The departure of the French troops to the frontier, 
before they were thoroughly prepared for service in 
the field, which is a very serious step to take, was 
evidently ordered for the pui'pose of suiprising the 
German army, with the forces immediately at com- 
mand, and thus interfering with the formation of their 
advance. But in spite of this, the German command- 
ers did not deviate from their purpose of massing 
their armies on the Rhine and crossing that river. 
The railway transport of the troops of the Second and 
Third Corps, however, was to end at the Rhine ; thence 
they were to march on foot into the cantonments pre- 
pared on the left bank of the river. They moved in 
echelon, advancing only so many at a time as would 
make room for the division behind them, as far as the 
line marked by the towns of Bingen, Diii'kheim, and 

The final advance towards the frontier was not to 
be undertaken until the divisions and corps were all 
collected, and provided with the all-necessary baggage 
train ; and then proceed in a state of readiness to con- 
front the enemy at any moment. 

The assembling of the First Army appeared to be 
less threatened, as its route lay through neutral ter- 
ritory, and was protected by the garrisons of Treves, 
Saarlouis, and Saarbriicken, the German outposts on 
the Saar. 

The First Army, 50,000 strong, was concentrated at 
Wadern, in the first days of August. The Second Army, 
which meanwhile had been increased to a strength of 
194,000 men, had pushed forward its cantonments to 
Alsenz-Giinnstadt, at the termination of the Haardt 
Mountains, a position which had been thoroughly 
reconnoitred by an ofiicer of the Staff, and where the 
troops might boldly await an attack. 


The 5th and 6th Cavalry Divisions were recon- 
noitring the country in front. The regiments and 
squadrons of the Third Ai"my were still gathering on 
both banks of the Rhine. 

The French so far had made no serious attempt at 
Saarbriicken ; Lieutenant-Colonel Pestel was able to 
successfully withstand their petty attacks with one 
battalion and thi*ee squadrons of cavalry. 

It had meanwhile been observed that the French 
were moving further to the right, towards Forbach 
and Bitsch, which seemed to indicate that the two 
French corps, known to be drawn up at Belfort and 
Strasburg, might purpose crossing the Rhine and 
marching on the Black Forest. It was therefore of 
very great importance to set the Third Ai^my moving 
at the earliest opportunity, first to protect the right 
bank of the Upper Rhine by an advance on the left ; 
secondly to cover the progress of the Second Army 
towards that point. 

A telegraphic order to that effect was dispatched on 
the evening of July 30th, but the Colonel in command 
of the Third Ai*my Corps desired to wait for the arrival 
of the Fourth and its baggage train. In spite of this 
hesitancy the Second Army was ordered to proceed 
towards the Saar, where the French were showing much 

The time had gone by when they might have taken 
advantage of their over-hasty mobilization ; the condi- 
tion of the men had prohibited any action. France 
was waiting for news of a victory ; something had to 
be done to appease public impatience, so, in order to 
do something, the enemy resolved (as is usual under 
such circumstances) on a hostile reconnoissance, and 
it may be added, with the usual result. 

On August 2nd three entire divisions were sent for- 


ward against three battalions, four squadrons, and one 
battery in Saarbriicken. The Emperor himself and 
the Prince Imperial watched the operations. The 
Third Corps advanced on VolMingen, the Fifth on 
Saargemiind, the Second on Saarbriicken. 

The Germans evacuated Saarbriicken after a gallant 
defence and repeated sorties, but the French did not 
cross the Saar. They may have convinced themselves 
that they had wasted their strength by hitting in the 
air, and had gained no information as to the resources 
and position of the enemy. 

After this the French generals hesitated for a long 
while between contrary resolutions. Orders were 
given and recalled on the strength of mere rumors. 
The left wing was reinforced on account of a current 
story that 40,000 Prussians had marched through 
Treves, the Guards received contradictory orders, and 
when a small German force showed itself at Lorrach in 
the Black Forest, it was at once decreed that the 
Seventh Corps must remain in Alsace. Thus the French 
forces were spread over the wide area between the Nied 
and the Upper Ehine, while the Germans were advanc- 
ing in compact masses on the Saar. 

This scattered state of the army finally induced the 
French leaders to divide their forces into two distinct 
armies. Marshal MacMahon took provisional com- 
mand of the First, Seventh, and Fifth Corps, the latter 
being withdrawn from Bitsch. The other divisions 
were placed under Marshal Bazaine, with the exception 
of the Guards, the command of which the Emperor 
reserved to himself. 

It had now become a pressing necessity to protect 
the left wing of the advancing Second German Army 
against the French forces in Alsace ; the Third Army 
was therefore ordered to cross the frontier on August 


4th, without waiting any longer for the batteries to 
come up. The First Army, forming the right wing, was 
already encamped near Wadern and Losheim, three or 
four days' march nearer to the Saar than the Second 
Army in the centre. They were ordered to concentrate 
in the neighborhood of Tholey and there await further 
orders. In the first place this, the weakest of the two 
divisions, was not to be exposed single-handed to an 
attack of the enemy's main force ; and secondly, it was 
to be used for a flank movement in case the Second 
Army should meet the enemy on emerging from the 
forests of the Palatinate. 

To execute this order, the First Army had to extend 
its cantonments in a southerly direction as far as the 
line of march of the Second Army, and evacuate its 
quarters near Ottweiler. This was a difficult matter 
to accomplish, as all the towns and villages to the 
north were billeted, and quarters had also to be found 
for the First Corps, now advancing by the Birkenfeld 
route. General von Steinmetz therefore decided to 
march his entire forces in the direction of Saarlouis 
and Saarbriicken. The Second Army had assembled, 
and was ready for action on August 4th, and received 
orders to take the field on the farther side of the 
wooded zone of Kaiserslautern. 


(August 4th.) 

On this day the united corps of the Third Army, 
consisting of 128 battalions, 102 squadrons cavalry, 
and 80 batteries, which had been encamped behind the 
River Klingsbach, crossed the French frontier, and 
advanced on a wide front to the banks of the Lauter, 
from Weissenburg to Lauterburg. This stream offers 


opportunities for a strong defence, but on August 4th. 
only one weak division and a cavalry brigade belong- 
ing to the First French Corps covered this point, the 
main body of that corps being still on the march 
towards the Palatinate. 

The Bavarians, forming the right wing, encountered 
a lively resistance before the exposed walls of Weissen- 
bui'g the first thing in the morning. But very soon 
after the Prussian corps crossed the Lauter further 
down the river. General von Bose led the Eleventh 
Corps up the Geisberg, in order to outflank the French 
right wing, while General von Kirchbach, with the Fifth 
Corps, advanced against the enemy's front. Thirty 
field pieces had at the same time been drawn up against 
the railway station of Weissenburg. That and the 
town were subsequently taken, after a bloody combat. 

By ten o'clock General Douay had ordered a retreat, 
which was seriously threatened by the movement 
against the Geisberg ; and the castle of that name, a 
very formidable fortress, was most obstinately de- 
fended, to enable the French to retire. The grenadiers 
of the 7th King's Regiment stormed it repeatedly, with 
immense loss, but in vain ; nor did the garrison sur- 
render until, with the greatest difficulty, artillery had 
been dragged to the summit. 

The French division, which had been attacked by 
three German coips, effected a retreat, after an obsti- 
nate struggle, though in great disorder, having suffered 
much loss. Its gallant commander had been killed. 
The Germans had also suffered a proportionately con- 
siderable loss : 91 officers and 1460 men killed. General 
von Kirchbach had been wounded while fighting in the 
foremost rank. 

The 4th Division of cavalry had met with much delay 
in the course of a four miles' march by the crossing of 


the columns of infantry. It never arrived on the field, 
and aU touch of the enemy now retiring to the west- 
ward was lost. 

Uncertain as to the direction whence a fresh attack 
of the French might be expected, the Third Ai'my ad- 
vanced on the 5th of August by diverging roads in 
the direction of Hagenau and Reichshofen ; but were 
ordered to proceed only so far as would be needful to 
reunite with the corps in a short day's march. 

The Crown Prince intended to let his men rest the 
next day, so as to enable him to lead them to a renewed 
attack as soon as the situation was made clear. But 
already, that same evening, the Bavarians, on the right, 
and the Fifth Corps in the centre, had a sharp encoun- 
ter with the French, who were drawn up behind the 
Saner in considerable numbers. 

It was to be assumed that Marshal MacMahon had 
brought up the Seventh Corps from Strasburg, but it re- 
mained to be seen whether he intended to join Marshal 
Bazaine in the neighborhood of Bitsch, or if he meant 
to accept battle at Worth, after securing his retreat on 
that point. It was also possible that he might com- 
mence the attack. The Crown Prince, to secure a pre- 
ponderating force, therefore determined to coUect his 
forces in the neighborhood of Sulz on August 6th. 
The Second Bavarian Corps received special instruc- 
tion to watch Bitsch with one division ; the other divis- 
ion was to attack the enemy in flank on the western 
bank of the Sauer, as soon as they should hear heavy 
firing at Worth. 

Marshal MacMahon had done his utmost to coUect 
his three corps in their entirety, and he reaUy intended 
to arrest the advance of the Germans by an immediate 
attack. A division of the Seventh Corps, which had but 
just been sent to Miilhausen to strengthen the defence 


of Alsace, was at once recalled to Hagenau, where it 
formed the right wing of the strong position held by 
the First Corps behind the Saner, and in front of 
Froschwiller, Elsasshaussen, and Eberbach. On the 
left the division of the Fifth Corps, commanded by 
Lespart, was expected from Bitsch ; the rest of that 
corps was to come up from Saargemlind, by Rohrbach. 
Meanwhile Ducrot's division formed a rear flank. 

Neither the German nor the French leaders expected 
the attack before the following day, but where the con- 
tending forces are so close upon each other, as in this 
case, the conflict may occui' at any moment, even 
against the wish of the commanders. 


(August 6th.) 

After a good deal of skirmishing between the out- 
posts during the night, the Commander of the 20th 
Grerman brigade thought it expedient to secure the pas- 
sage over the Sauer river, which lay just in front and 
was a serious obstacle. The bridge over it to Worth 
had been destroyed, but the sharp-shooters waded 
through the stream, and at seven o'clock entered the 
town, which the French had left unoccupied. 

They soon became aware of the fact that they 
were confronting a numerous enemy in a strong po- 

The broad meadows by the Sauer all lie within 
range of the commanding heights on the right ; and 
the long range of the Chassepot rifle must here prove 
invaluable. On the other side of the river the plain 
was dotted with vineyards and hop-gardens, thus 
offering great advantages for defensive purposes. 

The preliminary combat at Worth was hardly of 


thirty minutes' duration ; but as tlie artillery of both 
sides had taken active part in it, the signal was given 
for the Bavarian Division, under Hartmann, to come up 
from Langensulzbach, and they soon engaged the left 
flank of the French in a fierce conflict. The French, 
on their part, had attacked Gunstett on their right, 
where they were confronted by the advancing Eleventh 

The battle was now raging opposite Worth, as well to 
the north as the south, the Fifth Corps being likewise 
engaged ; and it became imperative to seriously engage 
the enemy's centre to prevent them from turning all 
their force on the German flank. 

The artillery were brought up, and by ten o'clock 108 
guns were in position on the eastern slopes of the Sauer, 
and had opened fire. 

Some infantry waded through the river, breast high, 
but this attack, undertaken with inadequate numbers, 
failed, and it was only by strenuous efforts that a foot- 
hold was obtained on the other side. 

The Crown Prince sent orders that nothing was to 
be done that would bring on a battle on that day ; but 
by this time the Fifth Corps was so seriously engaged 
that the fight could not be stopped without grave con- 
sequences: General von Kirchbach'^ therefore deter- 
mined to continue the battle on his own responsibility. 

The frontal attack was an undertaking of great diffi- 
culty, and could hardly succeed unless seconded by an- 
other in flank ; and at this juncture the Bavarians, in 
accordance with the Crown Prince's orders, ceased hos- 
tilities, and retired in the direction of Langensulzbach. 

There remained, however, the Eleventh Corps on 
the left, ready for immediate action. They seized the 
Albrechts-hauser farm and pressed forward into the 


In front of Worth, the battle was a succession of 
attacks on both sides ; the aggressor each time getting 
worsted, in consequence of the nature of the country. 
By degi'ees, however, all the battalions, and at last the 
artillery of the Fifth Corps were got across to the west 
bank of the Sauer ; the Eleventh Corps having previ- 
ously secured a good basis there for further advance. 

About this time, notwithstanding the evident unfa- 
vorable nature of the ground, two regiments of cuiras- 
siers and one of lancers of Michel's brigade made a 
determined attack on the G-erman infantry, near Mors- 
bronn, just as it was wheeling to the right. But the 
men of the 32nd Regiment, without looking for cover, 
received while deployed the advancing force of about 
1000 horse with a steady fire, which did great execu- 
tion. The cuirassiers especially suif ered immense loss. 
Only a few broke through the line of firing and gained 
the open ground ; many were taken prisoners in the 
village, the remainder rode madly off towards Walburg. 
There they encountered the Prussian 13th Hussars, ex- 
perienced further losses and disappeared from the field. 

The infantry of the French right wing succeeded in 
driving in the most advanced parties of the enemy at 
Albrechts-hauserhof, but their further progress was 
stopped by the newly-unmasked artillery. 

When finally the last battalions had crossed the 
Sauer, the Eleventh Corps made its way through the 
Niederwald, fighting for every foot of ground. The 
northern edge of the forest was reached by 2.30, and 
there the Eleventh were joined by the left wing of the 
Fifth Corps. The burning village of Elsasshaussen 
was taken by storm, as also the little thicket south of 
Froschwiller, after a gallant defence. 

Thus crowded together in a limited area, the situa- 
tion had become one of eminent danger to the French. 


Tlieir left flank, it is true, still held out against the 
renewed attack of the Bavarians, who had re-entered 
the action, but the centre and the right flank were 
closely pressed, and even their safe retreat was seri- 
ously threatened. Marshal MacMahon therefore tried 
to regain the open by a powerful counter-attack to the 
south. By this he succeeded in repulsing the German 
troops posted to the east of Elsasshaussen, who were 
thrown into confusion, and in part driven back into 
the Niederwald, but only to be at once re-assembled 
and brought back to the attack. Here the French 
cavalry again made an attempt to change the fortunes 
of the day. The division under Bonnemains, notwith- 
standing the unfavorable nature of the ground, threw 
itself on the open front of the adversary, suffered ter- 
rible losses, and was scattered before it had really got 

The Wiirtembergers now advanced from the south, 
while the Bavarians marched down from the north. 
General von Bose, though twice wounded, led as many 
of his division as he could collect to storm the burning 
town of Froschwiller, which was the enemy's last post. 
The artillery advanced to a point within range of grape- 
shot and thus cleared the road for the infantry which 
was pushing forward from all sides. Tlie French kept 
up a steady and gallant resistance until 5 o'clock, and 
then retreated towards Reichshofen and Niederbronn, 
in great disorder. 

At the Falkenstein stream, Lespart's Division, just 
arrived on the field, made a short stand, but these 
fresh forces offered only brief resistance, and were 
swept away in the general rout. 

This victory of the Third Army had been dearly 
paid for ; 489 officers and 10,000 men were laid low. 
The loss on the French side is not exactly known, but 


they left 200 officers and 9000 men as prisoners, be- 
sides 2000 draught-horses and 33 guns. 

The demoralization of the French troops must have 
been so complete as to render them unmanageable. 
Only one brigade of Lespart's Division took the road 
to Bitsch, to join the main army at St. Avoid ; all that 
remained following an irresistible impulse, fled wildly 
in a south-western direction towards Zabern. 

As the General in command of the Thii'd Army had 
not foreseen a battle on August 6th, the 4th Division 
of cavalry had not left its quarters in the rear, and 
was therefore unable to follow in pursuit ; nor did it 
arrive at Gunstett until 9 o'clock in the evening. But, 
in order to be at hand at any rate for the next day. 
Prince Albrecht, who was in command, marched on 
during the night as far as Eberbach; after a three 
hours' rest he set forth again, and after covering nine 
miles (German), came upon the rearguard of the enemy 
near Steinberg, at the foot of the hills. Without in- 
fantry it would have been impossible to go further, 
but the presence of the division had scared the enemy. 
The First Corps had resumed their march during the 
night, and reached Saarburg, where it joined the Fifth 
Corps. Thus the French had a start of five miles, 
and continued retreating on Luneville, unmolested 
by the Germans. 


(August 6th.) 

Let us now turn to the events which occurred, on 
that same 6th of August, on another part of the theatre 
of war. 

The Second Army, protected on its southern flank by 
the Third Army, had moved to the westward, while the 


corps that had remained behind were brought up by 
railway. Its front column had, on the 5th, reached the 
hne between Neunkirchen and Zweibriicken, marching 
unchecked through the defiles of the forest-zone of 
Kaiserslautern. The cavalry, skirmishing in French 
territory, reported that the enemy was retreating. All 
seemed to indicate that the French were preparing to 
await, in a strong defensive position, the attack of the 
Germans. The nearest position of the kind that offered 
was on the other side of the Moselle, where Metz and 
Diedenhofen secured both wings. 

It was decided that if the French were found there, 
the First Army was to engage the enemy in front, while 
the Second made a circuit south of Metz, so as to force 
the enemy either to retire or to accept battle. In case 
of defeat the Second Army was to fall back on the 
Third, now advancing over the Vosges. 

The extended position of the First Army in a south- 
erly direction towards the Saar, which had not been 
intended by the Commander-in-chief, had brought its 
left wing into contact with the line of march laid down 
for the Second, and they crossed each other at Saar- 
brlicken on the 6th. Thus there was no lack of 
strength at that point, but as a battle ^on that day was 
neither expected nor probable, a simultaneous arrival 
of troops had not been prearranged, and the several 
sections arrived there by different routes and at differ- 
ent hours. 

The 14th Division of the Seventh Corps reached 
Saarbriicken first, towards noon on the 6th. 

General Frossard, who considered his position there 
one of great risk, had left the night before, without 
waiting for permission to retreat, and had retired with 
the Second Corps on Spicheren, where they threw up 
entrenchments. The Third, Fourth, and Fifth Corps 


were in a position to his rear, at distances of from two 
to four miles, and the Guards were not more than five 
miles behind. The Emperor was, therefore, fully able 
to collect five corps for a battle in the vicinity of Co- 
cheren, or, on the other hand, to support Frossard with 
at least four divisions, if the General thought his posi- 
tion strong enough to hold. 

The range of hills which rise quite close to Saar- 
briicken can be made a formidable obstacle to crossing 
the Saar. It was known that the French had evacu- 
ated these points, but General von Kameke thought it 
prudent to occupy them at once, in order to secure the 
debouching of the columns in rear. When, in the 
forenoon, two squadi'ons of the 5th Cavalry Division 
had disappeared on the di-ill-ground on the further 
bank, they met with a hot fire from the Spicheren hills. 
But as it seemed highly probable, from the previous 
attitude of the French, that they were only the rear- 
guard of the retiring enemy. General von Kameke 
ordered an immediate attack, especially as he was 
promised help. General von Zastrow, as soon as he 
observed that the 14th Division had entered upon a 
serious engagement, sent forward the 13th. General 
von Alvensleben also ordered up all that could be 
spared of the Third Corps to Saarbriicken, and Gen- 
eral von Goeben directed the entire 16th Division to 
advance on that point. Generals von Doring and von 
Barnekow had turned their forces in the direction 
whence the fighting was heard, from Dudweiler and 
Fischbach respectively, even previous to receiving 
orders to that effect. 

The position occupied by the French was one of ex- 
treme advantage. The centre was protected by the 
Red Mountain (Der rothe Berg), a precipitous and al- 
most inaccessible cliff, while the steep slopes on both 


sides were densely wooded. To the left a group of 
buildings, the iron-works of Stiering-Wendel, formed 
an additional post of defence. 

Had the strength of the enemy been fuUy known the 
attack would certainly have been delayed until the 14th 
Division had completely formed up. As a matter of 
fact, at the beginning of the fight, about noon, only the 
brigade under Francois had come up, and this, with the 
purpose of facilitating an attack on the enemy's centre, 
which was well placed, turned first on his two flanks. 
At first it made some progress. The 39th Regiment 
drove the sharp-shooters of the enemy out of the 
Grifert woods, but then exposed themselves to the 
merciless fire of a French battalion drawn up on the 
further side of a deep hollow. On the right the 3rd 
Battalion, together with the 74th, seized the wood of 
Stiering. But the enemy's superior strength soon dis- 
played itself in violent counter-attacks, and when von 
Woyna's Brigade appeared on the field it was required 
to lend support on both sides. Thus, at an early stage, 
a mixing of battalions and companies began which 
increased with every repulse, and made the control of 
the battle a matter of the gi-eatest difficulty. Added 
to this it happened that three Generals in succession 
came up to the scene of the conflict, and each in turn 
took the command. 

At about 1 o'clock, when the wings were advancing, 
the Fusilier Battalion of the 74th Regiment had also 
pushed forward under a severe fire across the open 
ground at the foot of the Rotheberg, and under such 
cover as they could established themselves at the foot 
of the cliff. When, at about 3 o'clock, the Prussian 
artillery compelled the foe to move their guns further 
up the hill, the Fusiliers, with General von Francois 
at their head, began the ascent of the rock. The French 


Chasseurs, evidently taken by surprise, were driven 
from the outer entrenchments with clubbed rifles and 
at the point of the bayonet. The 9th Company of the 
39th Regiment followed close upon the Fusiliers, and 
the gallant General, leading their attack, fell, pierced 
by five bullets. Nothing daunted, the small body of 
Fusiliers made good their position on the narrow spur 
of the cliff. 

Nevertheless a crisis had set in. The 14th Division 
was extended over three-quarters of a mile ; its left 
wing had been repulsed by greatly superior forces into 
the wood of Gif ert, the right wing was hard pressed at 
Stiering. But at this moment, nearly four o'clock, the 
heads of the 5th and 16th Divisions arrived, shortly 
after their batteries, which had been sent ahead, had 
been brought into action. 

The left wing, now strongly reinforced, again ad- 
vanced. General von Barnekow led efficient help up 
the Rotheberg where the Fusiliers had almost ex- 
hausted their ammunition, and the French were driven 
out from their entrenchments. FinaUy, after a deter- 
mined struggle, the Geraians also succeeded in taking 
possession of the western part of the Gif ert Wald, wiiile 
the right wing had fought its way to Alt- Stiering and 
drew near to the enemy's line of retreat, the Forbach 
highway. General Frossard had, however, observed 
the danger at this point, and reinforced his left wing 
to the strength of a division and a half. These ad- 
vanced to the attack at five o'clock. The Germans had 
no complete force to oppose them, so all their previous 
advantages were lost. 

If the 13th Division could here have made a decisive 
attack, the battle would have been ended. 

This division had reached Puttlingen at 1 o'clock 
and was not more than a mile away from Stiering, 


having marched four (German) miles. When the noise 
of the fighting at Saarbriicken was heard, the advanced 
guard moved forward to Rossel; this was at four 
o'clock. It would seem that the roar of cannon was 
not distinguishable in the woods of Rossel ; the officers 
were under the impression that the combat was over, 
and the division bivouacked at Volkingen, which place 
had been previously appointed as the end of its march 
by the Commander of the corps at a time when he was, 
of course, unable to foresee the change in the situation. 

The French attack had meanwhile been brought to 
a stand by the seven batteries in position on Folster 
Hohe; the infantry then succeeded in making fresh 
progress, under the personal leadership of General von 

The nature of the ground entirely prohibited the 
twenty-nine squadi'ons of cavahy, which had arrived 
from all directions and were drawn up out of the range 
of fire, from taking part in the action. The Hussars 
tried in vain to ride up the Rotheberg, but in spite of 
incredible difficulties Major von Lyncker finally gained 
the summit with eight guns, amid the loud cheering 
of the much-distressed infantry. The guns, as each 
one came up, at once opened fire, returning the fire of 
three French batteries ; but quite half of the gunners 
were shot down by the French tirailleurs, who were 
under cover, at about 800 paces off. A small strip of 
gi^ound in front was indeed wrested from the enemy, 
but the narrow space allowed of no deployment against 
the wide front of the French. 

But effectual assistance was coming from the right. 
General von Goeben ordered all battalions of the 16th 
Division, not yet engaged, towards Stiering, where the 
fortunes of the day were sealed. While one part of 
these troops attacked the village, the others, turning 


off from the high road, entered the ravine of the Spi- 
cheren woods, and in a hand-to-hand encounter di'ove 
the French off the ridge leading to the Rotheberg and 
repelled them in the direction of the Forbach Height. 

Even as late as seven o'clock did Laveaucoupet's 
division, supported by part of Bataille's, come out to 
attack and invade the much-disputed position in the 
Gifert forest, but the danger threatening the French 
left wing from the Spicheren wood crippled this move. 
By nightfall the French were in full retreat over the 

To protect his night-quarters General von Schwerin 
occupied Stiering at about nine o'clock, while the 
French call to retreat was sounding from the heights. 
This was only done, at many points, after a hand-to- 
hand fight. The advanced guard of the 13th Division 
marched out to Forbach but did not occupy it, having 
been deceived by a troop of di'agoons in possession. 

General Frossard had in any case given up the idea 
of retreating via the seriously threatened Forbach and 
St. Avoid route, and retired with his three divisions 
on Oetingen. The darkness, and the impossibility of 
manoeuvring large bodies of cavalry in such a country, 
saved him from further pursuit. 

General von Steinmetz ordered the re-organization 
of the German forces that same night. Some of them 
had marched as much as six miles (German) in the 
course of the day ; two batteries, arriving from Konigs- 
berg by rail, had immediately set out for the battle- 
field; but the Germans, notwithstanding, had at no 
time attained the numerical strength of the enemy in 
this engagement, which had been begun with insuffi- 
cent forces. Only thirteen batteries could be brought 
into action in the limited space, and the cavalry was 
excluded from all participation. It was only natui'al, 


under the circumstances, that the losses in attack were 
greater than those of the defence. The Prussians lost 
4871, the French 4078 men. A matter of gi*ave signifi- 
cance was the fact that a considerable number of un- 
wounded French prisoners were taken in this action. 

In strong contrast to the good fellowship and help- 
fulness of the Prussian generals, and the eagerness of 
their troops, was the strange vacillation of the divis- 
ions behind General Frossard's line ; only three, indeed, 
were sent forward to his support, and only two came 
up when the fight was already ended. 

It has been asserted that the battle of Spicheren 
should never have taken place where it did, as it frus- 
trated plans on a larger scale. It certainly had not 
been anticipated, but, generally speaking, a tactical 
victory rarely fails to coincide with a strategic policy. 
Success in battle has always been thankfully accepted, 
and turned to account. The battle of Spicheren pre- 
vented the Second French Corps from retiring un- 
harmed; it brought the G-ermans in touch with the 
enemy's main force, and it gave the superior com- 
mand a basis for fresh plans of action. 


Marshal MacMahon, in his retreat, had taken a route 
which entirely severed his connection with Marshal 

As he was not pursued he could have used the rail- 
way on the LuneviUe Metz line to effect his union with 
the French main army ; for on the 9th it was still open, 
but rumor had it that the Prussians were already in 
Pont-a-Mousson, and the state of his troops prevented 
the Marshal from risking another engagement. 

His First Corps, therefore, turned southwards, and 
marched on Neuchateau, whence Chalons could be 


reached by railway. The Fifth Corps was being shifted 
to and fro by contradictory orders from the Emperor's 
head-quarters. First it was to proceed to Nancy, then 
to go in an opposite direction towards Langres. On 
arriving at Charmes it was ordered to Toul, but at 
Chaumont another order sent the corps to Chalons 
with the rest. General Trochu had drawn up the 
newly-formed Twelfth Corps at that point, and be- 
hind this line the Seventh Corps managed to get away 
from Alsace and reach Rheims by rail via Bar-sur- 
Aube and Paris. 

Thus by August 22nd a reserve army was formed, 
consisting of four corps and two cavalry divisions, 
under the command of Marshal MacMahon, who, being 
twenty-five miles away, was, however, unable to render 
immediate assistance to Marshal Bazaine, who stood 
, directly in the line of the advancing enemy. 

When the news of the double defeat of August 6th 
reached the Imperial head-quarters, the first impression 
there was that it would be necessary to retreat on 
Chalons with Bazaine's army, and the Sixth Corps, 
sections of which were already on the road to Metz, 
were ordered to retrace their steps. But this decision 
was presently changed. The Emperor had not merely 
to consider the foreign enemy, but public opinion in 
his own country. The sacrifice of entire provinces at 
the very beginning of a war which had been undertaken 
with such high anticipations, would have provoked the 
unbounded indignation of the French people. There 
were still 200,000 men who could be brought together 
on the western bank of the Moselle, with a strong 
fortress to support them, and though, even then, the 
enemy would have the superiority in numbers, his 
army was posted along a line of twelve miles. His 
troops had yet to cross the Moselle, and this would 


necessitate a disjunction which might weaken them at 
that decisive point. 

The generals of the Third Grerman Army did not 
know of the disorderly condition of the defeated enemy, 
nor even the direction of its retreat. It was supposed 
that the French would rally on the other side of the 
Vosges for renewed resistance ; and as it was impossible 
to cross the mountains, except as a narrow front, the 
German advance was very cautious, and by short day 
marches only. Though the distance between Reichs- 
hofen and the Saar is only six miles in a straight line, 
that river was only reached in five days. 

Nothing was seen of the enemy, except in the small 
but inaccessible villages which close in the mountain 
roads. Bitsch was avoided by a fatiguing circuit, 
Lichtenberg was captured by surprise, Liitzelstein had 
been abandoned by its garrison, Pfalzburg was being 
besieged by the Sixth Corps, and Marsal capitulated 
after a short resistance. 

The German left wing, having no enemy before it, 
could be brought into closer connection with the centre, 
and in order to get the three armies on a same front, 
they were ordered to wheel to the right. The advance 
of the First and Second Armies had, however, to be de- 
layed, as the Third did not reach the Saar until August 
12th. The whole movement was thus arranged. The 
Third Army was to proceed by Saarunion and Dieuze, 
and then southward ; the Second via St. Avoid and 
Nomeny and southward; the First was to take the 
road by Saarlouis and Les Etangs, that is in the direc- 
tion of Metz. 

The cavalry divisions, which were reconnoitring far 
to the front, reported the enemy as retreating all along 
the line. They fought close up to Metz, and on both 
sides of the Moselle, forcing the sections of Canro- 


bert's corps, which had again been ordered to proceed 
from Chalons, to retire. 

All these observations indicated that a large army 
was encamped beyond Metz. From this it might 
equally be inferred that the enemy intended a further 
retreat, or that an attack was to be made, by the whole 
French force, on the right wing of the Grerman army, 
while the crossing of the Moselle still inevitably divided 
it from the left wing. 

The Army head-quarters restricted itself, in the main, 
to issuing general instructions, the execution of which 
was left to the commanders on the scene of war ; but in 
this instance it was deemed necessary to regulate the 
movements of each separate corps by direct orders. 
On August 11th the head-quarters of his Majesty were 
therefore transferred to St. Avoid, in the front lines, 
and between the First and Second Armies, so as to 
allow of immediate action with either of these bodies 
at any moment. The three corps of the First Army 
advanced towards the Nied, a German stream, on 
August 12th, only to find that the French had evacu- 
ated that position. Three corps of the Second Army 
marched forward to Faulquemont and Morhange on 
a same front, while two others retired a short distance. 

On the next day the Second Army reached the Seille 
and occupied Pont-a-Mousson without encountering 
the enemy. 

The extraordinary inactivity of the French made it 
seem probable that they might not make a stand, even 
at Metz, a notion corroborated by the reports of the 
German cavahy, which was pursuing its observations 
as far as Toul and the road to Verdun ; but there was 
still a possibility that the enemy meant to throw him- 
self, with 200 battalions, on the Fu'st Ai-my, now in 
his immediate proximity. The two corps forming the 


right wing of the Second Army were therefore ordered 
to halt for the present, a httle way to the south of 
Metz, so that they might be ready to attack the French 
flank in case of necessity. If the enemy chose to turn 
upon these corps, then that order was to hold good for 
the Fu'st Army. 

Meanwhile the other corps of the Second Army pur- 
sued their route southwards to the Moselle; if the 
enemy should attack them with superior forces, after 
they had crossed the river, their orders were, in case 
of need, to fall back on the Third Army. 

So much caution was not deemed essential by all of 
the leaders ; the French were abeady in full retreat, 
they must not be allowed to escape without further 
check, and the Grerman Army ought forthwith to strike 
a decided blow. The French had, indeed, already 
resolved on a further retreat ; but, when the Seventh 
Corps became aware of their retrograde movement, 
during the afternoon, a fight began on the German 
side of the Moselle, which, by the voluntary interven- 
tion of the nearest divisions, developed into a battle in 
the course of the evening. 


(August 14th.) 

The Commandant of Metz had declared his inability 
to hold that fortress a fortnight, if left to his own 
resources ; and the intrenched position on the Nied, 
taken up for the protection of the city, had been found 
disadvantageously situated, so the French commander 
hoped to take up a more favorable position at Verdun. 

Strategic necessity outweighed even political regard 
for public opinion, and the Emperor, although he had 
transferred the command-in-chief to Marshal Bazaine, 


remained with the army, for it would have been im- 
possible for him to return to Paris under such cir- 

Very early in the morning of the 14th August be- 
gan the removal of the extensive baggage train through 
the streets of the city, and towards noon the Second, 
Fourth, and Sixth Corps set out, while the Third Corps 
remained in its position behind the deep vaUey of the 
Colombey stream, to cover the retreat. 

When, at four o'clock, the movements of the enemy 
became known, General von der Goltz threw the front 
columns of the Seventh Corps across his path, and 
seized Colombey and the Chateau d'Aubigny, on the 
right flank of the French. But, upon hearing the first 
sound of cannon, the French columns immediately 
turned about, fully equipped for battle, and eager, 
after their previous defeats, to change their fortunes 
by a determined struggle. Castagny's division at once 
marched, with greatly superior force, upon the small 
detachment holding the isolated position of Colombey, 
which only held its o\nti by a determined effort. 

Meanwhile the advanced guard of the First Army 
Corps came by both highways from Saarbriicken and 
Saarlouis ; and their batteries, being ahead, at once took 
part in the engagement. The infantry following, 
ascended the eastern slopes of the plateau of Bellecroix, 
by way of Lauvallier, and also drove the enemy out of 
the woods at the east of Mey. But at this point the 
stand made by the French Third Corps brought about 
a lull. 

The 13th, 1st, and 2nd Divisions had meanwhile fol- 
lowed up their advanced guard, the last two having 
been kept in readiness by General von Manteuffel ever 
since his outposts had reported that the enemy was 
moving. General von Zastrow, too, arrived on the 


field, and undertook the command of the left. Very 
soon sixty field-pieces came into action against the 
enemy. General von Osten-Sacken succeeded in car- 
rying the 25th Brigade through the hollow of Coincy, 
and led them up the slope of the plateau. The copse 
of fir-trees on the road to Bellecroix was taken by 
storm, surrounded on three sides, again lost in a bloody 
conflict, and then recaptured. Soon afterwards two 
batteries succeeded in establishing themselves on the 
western side of Planchette and driving the French 
back to Borny ; still the most violent conflict was rag- 
ing on both sides. 

But now the German right was in danger of being 
out-flanked. General Ladmirault, upon hearing that 
Grenier's division had been driven out of Mey, im- 
mediately set out to its relief with his other two 
divisions, regained possession of the village, and 
advanced on the road to Bouzonville. General von 
Manteuffel had meanwhile taken the necessary precau- 
tions to remain master, at all hazards, of that part of 
the Vallieres stream which covered the right flank. 
The 1st Brigade was drawn up behind Noisseville, as a 
reserve for general emergency, the 4th, and part of the 
artiUery of the First Corps, were sent to face General 
Ladmirault at Poix, on the Bouzonvilte road, while the 
remaining batteries were to enfilade him in his advance 
from their positions on the southern slopes to the east 
of Nouilly. On the left Gliimer's division had all this 
time held their ground at Colombey, but now, at seven 
o'clock in the evening, the brigade under Woyna came 
to their assistance, and took possession of the woods 
to the west. A very welcome reinforcement by the 
Second Army, retained at the Seille, now arrived. 

The 18tli Infantry Division, after a heavy march, 
had bivouacked near Buchy in the afternoon, but when 


General von Wrangel was informed that firing was 
audible in the direction where the First Army was 
known to be, he at once set his troops in motion 
towards that point. He drove the enemy out of 
Peltre, and, in conjunction with Von Woyna's brigade, 
occupied Grigy, somewhat to the rear of the French 
position at Borny. 

The 2nd Division, on the right wing, had also pushed 
on the line of battle towards Mey, by way of Nouilly 
and the adjacent vineyards ; Mey and the neighboring 
woods were taken from the enemy before nightfall. 
The French had not proceeded further than Villers 
I'Orme, and from thence retreated, all along their line, 
in the direction of Grigy. The Prussians, as they 
retired, were only disturbed by heavy firing from the 
forts, especially from that of St. Julien, which kept it 
up till after dark. 

The Germans lost by the engagement of August 14th 
5000 men, among them 200 officers ; the French lost only 
3600 men, their Third Corps being the heaviest sufferer. 
The vicinity of a great fortress of course prevented the 
reaping of the fruits of victory by immediate pursuit. 

It was for this reason, indeed, that the Fu*st Army 
had not been prepared to fight on that day, though the 
possibility of a battle had been anticipated. Although 
the Second Army had only been able to send one divis- 
ion to the aid of the Fii'st at that late hour, its assault 
on the left flank of the enemy had not failed of its 

The manner in which the battle was begun debarred 
it from being directed by one chief. 

The advanced guard of the foui* divisions were the 

troops principally engaged. The battle was checkered 

by many critical moments ; some small detachments, 

sometimes out of reach of immediate support, boldly 



attacked a superior foe ; and the result might have been 
serious if the enemy had made more decisive use of 
their compact formation. It must, however, be ad- 
mitted that their Third Corps received no support 
from the Gruards standing close in theu' rear ; while, 
on the other hand, all the Prussian commanders, who 
were within reach, were again distinguished by that 
esprit de corps and mutual helpfulness which had ani- 
mated them in the previous engagements. 

A large share of the success of the day must be 
attributed to the artillery. Hurrying along in front 
of the advanced guard, the artillery aided them very 
effectively in driving the French from their position 
before Metz, and driving them back under cover of its 
forts, even before the main body had time to come up. 

But for this protection the Grermans would have had 
some trophies to show for their victory at Colombey- 
Nouilly, but the Commander-in-chief was very well 
satisfied with the results obtained. The retreat of 
the enemy had been intercepted, and a day had been 
gained to effect the crossing of the Second and Third 
Armies over the Moselle. 

(August 15th.) Early in the morning of the 15th the 
cavalry had ridden forth to the outworks of Metz, but 
saw nothing of the enemy on this side of the fortress. 
A few shells thrown into the camp of Longueville 
scared the Imperial head-quarters away from that 

King William had ridden over to the First Army, 
and immense clouds of dust were observed rising on 
the other side of the fortress^ it could no longer be 
doubted that the French were in retreat, and that the 
Second Army was now free to cross the MosoUe with 
train and baggage. 

The First Corps of the First Army had to remain 


south of Metz at Courcelles, to protect the railway 
lines, the other two were withdrawn on the left towards 
the Seille ; they were to cross the river higher up, so 
as to avoid a separation of the forces by the fortress. 

The French had started again on the march, inter- 
rupted yesterday, but proceeded no further than about 
a mile from Metz on August 15th. Their cavalry only 
went a little further ahead, by the two roads to Ver- 

The Third Corps of the German Second Army trav- 
ersed the Moselle at Noveant, where the bridge was 
found intact, and by a flying bridge of boats ; its artil- 
lery, however, was forced to make a detour by Pont-a- 

It was not until late at night that the troops were 
all across and encamped close to the left bank. One 
division of the Tenth Corps was left at Pont-a-Mousson 
and the others advanced to Thiaucourt. The cavalry 
went even further towards the Metz-Verdun road, 
and encountered that of the French near Mars-la-Tour. 
Several small engagements took place, but when, early 
in the afternoon, twenty-four Prussian squadrons had 
assembled, the French thought it wise to retreat on 
Vionville. The Guards and the Fourth Corps had 
crossed at Dieulouard and Marbache, higher up the 

The Third Army was drawn up in the line of Nancy 
and Bayou. On this day an attempt to seize the for- 
tress of Diedenhofen by surprise, proved a failure. 


(August 16th.) 

The generals of the Second Army, like the rest, were 
of opinion that there were no more serious engage- 


ments to be anticipated on the Moselle, and therefore 
two corps, the Third and the Tenth, were ordered to 
proceed northwards on the road to Verdun, via Gorze 
and Thiaucourt, on August 16, while the others were 
hastened westwards towards the Meuse. 

The French retreat from Metz was, however, not 
effected on that day. Its heavy baggage blocked every 
road, and in the forenoon three divisions still remained 
behind in the Moselle valley. The Emperor alone had 
departed at an early hour on the road by Etain, which 
was comparatively safe. He was escorted by two 
brigades of cavahy. As the right wing of the army 
could not yet follow, the start was postponed until the 
afternoon, and the left wing, who were ready, sent back 
again into their bivouacs. But they were disturbed 
by Prussian shell as early as nine o'clock in the morn- 

Major Korber had advanced with four batteries close 
up to Vionville, under cover of the cavahy, and the 
French dragoons, surprised by their fire, fled in con- 
fusion through their own infantry-camp. These, how- 
ever, at once seized their arms and formed into line, 
while their artillery opened a heavy fire. Unsupported 
at first by infantry, the Prussian gUAS withdrew ; but 
matters soon became serious. 

General von Alvensleben, fearing to lose sight of 
the enemy, had started again with the Third Corps 
after a short night's rest. The 6th Division was march- 
ing on the left flank, by Onville ; the 5th, on the right, 
proceeded through the long forest valley, on the way 
to Gorza. This valley was found unoccupied by the 
enemy, who indeed had taken very few precautions. 

The advanced guard encountered the French di- 
vision under Berge on the open plateau south of Fla- 
vigny, and General von Stiilpnagel soon discovered 


that lie had to do with an enemy whom it would take 
all his strength to beat. At ten o'clock the 10th Bri- 
gade marched to the attack and opened fire on the 
enemy with twenty-four guns. 

Both sides now assumed the offensive. The Prus- 
sians, on the right, fought their way with varying for- 
tunes through the wood, often in hand-to-hand encount- 
er, and, towards eleven o'clock, succeeded in reaching 
the projecting spur of the wood of St. Arnould oppo- 
site Flavigny. Their left wing, on the contrary, was 
repulsed ; even the artillery at that point came near to 
being overthrown. The 52nd Regiment finally re- 
gained the lost ground, paying heavily for its valor. 
The 1st Battalion lost every one of its officers, the col- 
ors passed from hand to hand as its bearers were suc- 
cessively shot down, and the commander of the brigade, 
General von Doring, feU mortally wounded. General 
von Stiilpnagel rode in the line of fire, encouraging 
the men, while General von Schwerin collected the 
remnant of his troops bereft of their leaders, and held 
the height of Flavigny, whence the French finally 
retired on the General having been reinforced by a 
section of the Tenth Corps from Noveaut. 

On the supposition that the French had already 
begun their retreat, the 6th Division was sent forward 
to Etain by way of Mars-la-Tour, to obstruct, if pos- 
sible, the northern road to Verdun. When they 
reached the height of TronviUe, whence they could see 
how things really stood, they wheeled to the right in 
the direction of Vionville and Flavigny. Their artil- 
lery, in advance, formed a formidable line of fire, and 
thus prepared the attack ; by half-past eleven the 11th 
Brigade had taken possession of VionviUe in spite of 
heavy losses. From thence, and from the south, in 
conjunction with the 10th Brigade, an attack was 


directed on the town, now in flames. The different 
divisions were much mixed, but by taking advantage 
of every rise in the ground for cover, the regimental 
officers got theii* men steadily forward, in spite of 
heavy fire from the French infantry and guns. Fla- 
vigny was taken by assault, and one cannon and a 
number of prisoners fell into the hands of the brave 

Vionville, Flavigny and the northern end of the 
forest of St. Arnould were now the points of support 
of the Prussian forces facing to the east ; their line was 
nearly a mile long, and the entire infantry and artil- 
lery were in one Une and engaged in hot fight. The 
5th and 6th Cavalry Divisions and part of the 37th 
Brigade were engaged in an independent fight near 

The position of the French was one of great advan- 
tage. Their left flank was protected by the fortress 
of Metz, the right by formidable batteries along the 
old Roman road, and a strong force of cavalry ; they 
might safely await an attack on their centre. 

Of coui'se, the march towards Verdun, even under 
cover of a strong rear-guard, had to be abandoned. If 
the Marshal had been resolved to pi;oceed, he would 
have had to engage and get rid of the enemy in front 
of him. 

It is difficult to decide, from a purely military stand- 
point, why this alternative was not taken. There was 
hardly a doubt that only part, and probably only a 
small part, of the German armies could as yet have 
crossed the Moselle, and when in the course of the day 
the divisions that had remained at Metz arrived, the 
French were decidedly the stronger. But it seems 
that the Marshal's first object was not to be forced 
■ away from Metz ; almost his entire concern was for 


the left wing. By constantly reinforcing this flank, he 
massed the Gruards and part of the Sixth Corps in front 
of the Bois des Ognons, from whence no attack was 
made. We are tempted to fancy that political reasons 
alone induced Bazaine, thus early in the game, to 
attach himself to Metz. 

Meanwhile the Prussians slowly but surely made 
their way beyond Flavigny and Vionville, and, assisted 
by a heavy fire from the artillery, compelled the right 
wing of the Second French Corps to retire on Rezon- 
ville, a movement which turned into a flight when the 
French Generals Bataille and Valaze had been killed. 

To regain the lost ground the French Cuirassier 
Guards turned resolutely on the pursuers, but their 
attack was cut short by the rapid fire of two com- 
panies of the 52nd Regiment, drawn up in line, who 
did not fire till within 250 paces of the enemy. The 
cavalry parting to the right and left rushed into the 
fire of more infantry behind ; 243 horses were left on 
the field, and only the remains of the regiment escaped 
the pursuit of two hussar regiments from Flavigny. 
A French battery in front of Rezonville had hardly 
time to discharge a few shots before it was surrounded. 
The Prussians could not, indeed, carry off the guns, 
having no horses to spare; but the Commander-in- 
chief of the French army, who himself placed the guns 
in position, was for several minutes in imminent dan- 
ger of being taken prisoner. 

The 6th Division of Prussian cavalry had also been 
ordered to the front ; after passing through the lines 
of artillery and forming line as well as the limited 
space permitted, they found themselves face to face 
with fresh and well-ordered troops. Marshal Bazaine 
had taken the precaution of substituting the Grenadier 
Guards Division for the defeated companies of the 


Second Corps, having at last brought them up from 
his disengaged left wing, but not without filling the 
vacancy by a division of the Thii-d Corps. Thus the 
Prussian cavalry, on nearing, was received with such 
overwhelming fire from musketry and artillery that it 
pulled up short, and then slowly retired, its retreat 
being covered by two squadrons of Uhlans, who 
repeatedly attacked the advancing enemy. The heavy- 
horse did no actual fighting, but the artillery had 
gained time and opportunity to advance on a line 
from the skirt of the woods to Flavigny. 

It was now two o'clock. So far General von Alven- 
sleben had deceived the enemy with regard to the 
slender number of his troops by incessant assaults. 
But the battle was now at a standstill, the battalions 
visibly thinned, their strength reduced by four hours of 
hard fighting, and the infantry had almost exhausted 
its supply of ammunition. There was not a battalion, 
not a battery left in reserve all along the exposed line. 
There was nothing to be done but to maintain and 
defend the positions so hardly won. 

The left wing was in especial danger, being under 
the fire of the heavy artillery posted on the Roman 
road. Their greatly superior numbers permitted the 
French to extend their right wing, threatening thus to 
encircle the Prussians. 

Marshal Canrobert, in the French centre, had dis- 
cerned the right moment to press forward on VionviUe 
with all his forces. At this critical instant the Ger- 
mans had only a small portion of the 5th Cavalry Di- 
vision available to check him. Two brigades had been 
dispatched to cover the German left, and of the 12th 
Brigade, which remained in the rear of VionviUe, two 
squadrons had been sent to the woods of Tronville. 
The two regiments, the Magdeburg Cuirassiers and 


Altmarkische Lancers, ordered to face- Canrobei-t's 
forces, were therefore only three squadi-ons, that is 
800 horses. 

General von Bredow first crossed the valley below 
Vionville in column, and then wheeling to the right he 
traversed the eastern slope, after having drawn up 
both regiments on the same front. Being received 
with heavy infantry and artillery fii-e, he made a de- 
termined attack on the enemy's lines, riding down the 
foremost, breaking through their fire and securing the 
guns and the drivers. The second line of the French 
again could not withstand this onslaught, and even 
their remoter batteries prepared to limber up. 

But the triumph and excitement of success carried 
the small body of horse too far, and after an advance 
of 3000 paces they found themselves surrounded by 
the cavalry of the enemy, which attacked them from 
all sides. There was not space enough for a second 
charge, and so, after several encounters with the French 
cavalry, the brigade was forced to cut its way back 
through the French infantry, who followed them up 
with numerous volleys. Only one-half of the men 
reached Flavigny alive, where they were re-organized 
into two squadi'ons, having succeeded by their devoted 
bravery in stopping the French from further attack 
on Vionville. 

At three o'clock four of the German divisions were 
advancing towards the Tronville woods. Barby's 
cavalry brigade, placed to keep watch on the western 
side, had to retire before the enemy's fire, and the in- 
fantry occupying the forest also had to yield to superior 
strength ; the batteries which were drawn up between 
Vionville and the wood were attacked in their unpro- 
tected rear at the opening of the forest, and were like- 
wise forced to retire. But it took the French a full 


hour to conquer the obstinate resistance of the four 
Prussian battahons. 

At the subsequent roll-call, near Tronville, it was as- 
certained that the 24th Regiment had lost 1000 men 
and 52 officers, while every officer of the 2nd Battalion 
of the 20th Regiment was killed. Half the 37th 
Brigade, who had backed up their comrades volunta- 
rily since noon, took possession of Tronville and pre- 
pared it for an obstinate defence. It was not till near 
three that the Third Corps, which had been fighting 
for seven hours almost single-handed, received any 
efficient assistance. 

While the Tenth Corps was on the route to Thiau- 
court, its advanced guard heard heavy firing from the 
direction of Vionville, and the General in command, 
von Voigts-Rhetz, immediately set out for the battle- 
field. Having personally ascertained how matters 
stood, he gave the necessary orders to the troops in 

Here again the artillery opened the attack. Its fire 
stopped the advance of the enemy on both sides of 
the Tronville woods, especially when the batteries of 
the Third Corps simultaneously reopened fire. Half 
an hour later the first infantry of von "^oyna's brigade 
appeared on the field, drove the enemy back into the 
wood, and finally, assisted by the Diringshofen's bri- 
gade, took possession of the northern outskirts. The 
right wing of the Third Corps had also been rein- 

The 32nd Brigade of the Eighth Corps, on being 
called upon to assist the 5th Division, immediately ad- 
vanced from the Moselle via Arry, though fatigued by 
a long march. The lltli Regiment joined the brigade, 
and three batteries were sent ahead to commence opera- 
tions ; this force emerged at five o'clock from the forest 


of St. Arnould. They at once made an assault on the 
heights of Maison Blanche, but, though renewing their 
attack three times, failed to take up that position in 
the teeth of Marshal Bazaine, who had greatly strength- 
ened his lines in front of Rezonville. Then the French, 
in their turn, assumed the offensive ; but they too were 
unable to establish themselves on the hill, which was 
fully exposed to the well-du'ected fire of the Prussian 
artillery, and they again retraced their steps. Minor 
struggles for this position were renewed on both sides, 
but were always frustrated either by the German or 
the French artillery ; and the fight on the right had 
become more or less stationary. 

The fact that on the left two French divisions had 
retired, abandoning the woods of Tronville to a few 
newly-arrived Prussian battalions, can only be ex- 
plained by a report having reached Bazaine's head- 
quarters that the enemy was harrying the right fiank 
of the French near Hannonville. 

The enemy referred to was Wedell's brigade, which, 
having started for Etain according to orders, on reach- 
ing St. Hilaire at noon, received instructions to pro- 
ceed to the field of battle. 

General von Schwartzkoppen selected the highway 
to Mars-la-Tour, with a view to falling on the enemy 
either in the rear or in flank. The French in the 
interim had extended their reinforced right wing to 
the valley, west of Bruville, where three divisions of 
cavahy were drawn up. 

Thus, when General von Wedell's brigade, no more 
than five battalions strong, advanced to the attack from 
both sides past TronviUe, which the French themselves 
had fired, he found himself in front of the extensive 
line of the 4th French Brigade. 

The two Westphalian regiments advanced steadily 


under the storm of shell and fire of mitrailleuses, when 
they suddenly reached the edge of a deep ravine. This, 
however, they soon traversed, but when they had 
scaled the opposite bank they were met by a murderous 
shower of bullets from the infantry, which were every- 
where close upon them. After almost every one of the 
officers and generals had been killed, the remnant of 
the battalions fell back into the ravine ; 300 men were 
taken prisoners, being unable to ascend the steep 
southern slope after the fatigue of a six-mile march. 
Those who escaped mustered at Tronville around the 
bullet-riddled colors which Colonel von Cranach, the 
only officer who still had a horse under him, brought 
back in his own hand. 

Seventy-two officers and 2542 men were missing, out 
of 95 officers and 4546 men — more than half. The 
French pressed after the defeated enemy, but were 
checked on the right by the dauntless attack of the 
1st Dragoon Gluards, though that regiment was re- 
duced by 250 horses and nearly all its officers gone ; 
and on the left by the 4th Squadron of the 2nd 
Dragoon Gruards, who faced three times their number 
of Chasseurs d'Afrique. 

But there now appeared on the op^n ridge of Ville 
sur Yron a large force of cavahy. These were Le- 
gi-and's division and the Guard Brigade de France in 
four compact masses, overlapping each other to the 

The Grermans had only 16 squadrons left, who now 
joined Barby's brigade ; they were drawn up in two 
bodies to the left of Mars-la-Tour. A little in advance 
of them stood the 13th Dragoons, to receive the charge 
of the squadron of the Guards. 

The dragoons charged the French first line — the 
hussar brigade, which had ridden through between 


the intervals of the Prussian regiments ; but soon after- 
wards General von Barby appeared with the remainder 
of his forces on the height of Ville sur Yron, and at 
haK-past six o'clock the bodies of cavahy came into 

A mighty cloud of dust concealed the ensuing hand- 
to-hand encounter of 5000 mounted men, swaying to 
and fro, fortune gi*adually deciding for the Prussians. 
Greneral Montaigu was taken prisoner severely 
wounded, and General Legrand fell while leading his 
di'agoons to the assistance of the hussars. 

The Brigade de France allowed the enemy to ap- 
proach within 150 paces, and then the Lancer Regiment 
rushed upon the Hanoverian Uhlans; but the latter 
outflanked them, and received unforeseen assistance 
from the 5th Squadron of the 2nd Dragoon Guards, 
who, on their return from a reconnaissance, plunging 
over fences and ditches, fell upon the French in flank, 
while the Westphalian Cuirassiers at the same time 
broke their front. The Chasseurs d'Afrique tried in 
vain to hinder the movements of the Hanoverian 
Dragoons, who more and more enclosed them; the 
clouds of dust began to move in a northerly direction, 
and the entire French cavalry drew away towards the 
valley of Bruville, where they had still five regiments 
of Clerembault's cavalry. The General ordered one 
brigade to cross the valley, but the fleeing hussars and 
some misunderstood signals threw them into confusion. 
They were borne back, and not until the infantry 
charged upon the Prussian pursuers in the covered 
valley did the latter desist from the pursuit. 

The Prussian regiments quietly reformed and then 
withdi-ew at a walk to Mars-la-Toui-, followed at a gi^eat 
distance by part of the Clerembault's division. 

This, the greatest cavalry combat of the war, had 


the effect of making the French right wing give up all 
further attempts to act on the offensive. The Grermans 
moui-ned the loss of many superior officers, who always, 
at the head of thek men, had set them a splendid 

Prince Frederick Charles had now hastened to the 
field of battle. The day was nearly at an end, darkness 
approaching, and the battle won. The Prussians in 
the evening stood on the ground which in the morning 
had been occupied by the French. Though General 
von Alvensleben had in the first instance been under 
the impression that he would have only the French 
rear-guard to deal with, he did not hesitate in the 
attack when he found the entire army before him. 
With his single corps he kept up the fight till the after- 
noon, and drove back the enemy from Flavigny to 
Eezonville, a distance of more than half a mile. This 
was one of the most brilliant achievements of the war. 

Thanks to the valuable assistance of the Tenth Corps 
the battle could be carried on through the afternoon 
on the defensive, but only by most decided counter, 
attacks from the cavalry, and the unflinching tenacity 
of the artillery. 

To renew a challenge to the enemy,^who still gi'eatly 
outnumbered the Grermans, would now have been rash- 
ness, and as they could hope for no further assistance, 
might have jeopardized the success so dearly paid for. 

The troops were exhausted, most of their ammunition 
spent, the horses had been saddled for fifteen hours, 
and without fodder. A part of the batteries could only 
be moved at a slow pace, and the nearest Prussian 
troops on the left bank of the Moselle, the Twelfth 
Corps, were a day's march distant. 

Notwithstanding aU this, an order from the Com- 
mander-in-chief, issued at seven o'clock, decreed a 


renewed attack by all troops on the positions occupied 
by the enemy. The Tenth Corps was quite incapable of 
responding to this demand, but part of the artillery and 
a smaU force of infantry went forward on the right. The 
batteries succeeded in ascending the much-disputed 
plateau south of Rezonville, but only to be exposed to 
the fire of infantry and artillery on both sides, and 
fifty-four guns of the French Guards alone, di-awn up 
beyond the valley, were taking them in flank. The 
Prussian batteries were compelled to retreat, but two 
brigades of the 6th Cavalry Division were still pressing 
forward, hardly able to see what they were doing in 
the increasing darkness. They too came within range 
of the same fire, and withdrew with great loss. 

Fighting did not entirely cease until ten o'clock, 
when both sides had lost 16,000 men. Neither could 
make any attempt at pursuit. The Grermans reaped 
the fruits of this victory only in its results. The 
troops, worn out by a twelve hours' struggle, encamped 
on the victorious but bloody field, immediately opposite 
the French lines. 

Those corps of the Second Army that had not taken 
part in the battle had marched on towards the Meuse, 
the advanced guard of the Fourth Corps on the left wing 
being directed on Toul. This fortress, commanding a 
railway line of importance for the further progress of 
the German army, was reported to be but insufficiently 
garrisoned, and it was resolved to take it by surprise. 
But the fire of field artillery only proved futile. Stone 
bastions and a wide moat made it impregnable. An 
attempt to batter down the gates by shot and thus gain 
an entrance proved a failure. Finally the undertaking 
was given up, and not without some loss on the part 
of the Germans. 

At the Army head-quarters in Pont-a-Mousson it 


was known by about noon that the Third Corps was 
engaged in a serious conflict, and that the Tenth and 
Ninth had moved up to its assistance. The full sig- 
nificance and the far-reaching consequences of this 
information were recognized at once. 

The French evidently had been stopped in their 
retreat, but it was to be presumed that they would 
again make strenuous efforts to effect it. 

The Twelfth Corps was therefore ordered to set out 
for Mars-la-Tour as early as three o'clock next morn- 
ing, and the Seventh and Eighth Corps were to stand 
in readiness at Corny and Arry. 

The bridge over the river was to be constructed 
with all dispatch dui'ing the night. The Commander- 
in-chief of the Second Army at Grorze ordered the 
Guards to go at once to Mars-la-Tour and take up a 
position on the left of the Twelfth Corps. 

The execution of these orders was facilitated by the 
foresight of the generals, who had in the course of the 
day received news of the battle that had been fought. 
Prince George of Saxony at once placed his division 
on the road to Thiaucourt, and the Prince of Wiirtem- 
berg collected the infantry of the Guards in their 
northern cantonments to be in readiness for an early 

(August 17th.) On August 17th at daybreak, the 
French outposts were still observed occupying the 
entire Une between Bruville and Rezonville. In their 
rear there was a stir and much signalling, which might 
indicate an intended attack or preparations for retreat. 

The King arrived from Pont-a-Mousson at Flavigny 
as early as six o'clock. The reports sent in to head- 
quarters until noon by the reconnoitring cavalry were 
somewhat contradictory ; they did not make it clear 
whether the French were concentrating at Metz, or 


retreating by the two still open roads via Etain, and 
Brierg. Hostile movements had nowhere been ob- 

By one o'clock, after a skirmish on the way, the head 
of the Seventh Corps had reached the northern skirt of 
the Bois des Ognons, opposite which the French subse- 
quently abandoned G-ravelotte. The Eighth Corps 
stood ready at Gorze, the Third, Ninth, and Tenth had 
remained in their positions, the Twelfth and the Gruards 
were marching on. By the next day the Grermans 
could count on having seven corps and three cavalry 
divisions at their disposal ; for the present no attack 
was to be made. 

In preparing for the forthcoming battle on August 
18th, two possible issues were to be anticipated. To 
this end, the left wing was dispatched in a northerly 
direction past Doncourt towards the nearest of the 
routes still open for the retreat of the French. If the 
enemy were already retiring they were to be at once 
attacked and detained; the right wing would foUow 
to support the left. 

In case the enemy was encountered at Metz, the left 
wing was to turn eastwards and outflank the French 
on the north, while the right was to keep them engaged 
in fighting until this movement was accomplished. 
The battle, under these circumstances, could not be 
decided until late in the day, owing to the widely turn- 
ing movement of a portion of the force. A peculiar 
feature of the case was that both parties had to fight 
with changed front and break up their lines of com- 
munication. The consequences of victory or defeat 
would thus be greatly enhanced or aggravated, but 
the French had the advantage of a larger field for 
action and of reserves behind them. 

A decision was arrived at, and by two o'clock orders 


were issued to the left wing at Flavigny to advance in 
echelon. The movements of each corps during the bat- 
tle were to depend on the reports brought into head- 
quarters. The King then returned to Pont-a-Mousson. 

As early as nine o'clock in the morning the Saxon 
division of cavalry had come up to the west of Conflans, 
on the road to Etain, and reported no enemy visible 
except a few scouts. Still, this only proved that the 
French had not begun their retreat on the 17th. 

The Twelfth Corps, behind and to the left of its 
cavalry, arrived at Mars-la-Tour and Puxieux dur- 
ing the day, and the Guards moved on to Hannonville 
on the Yron before nightfall. The Second Corps, 
which ever since it left the railway had followed in 
the wake of the Second Army, reached Pont-a-Mousson, 
and was ordered to proceed by Buxieres at four in 
the morning. 


(August 18th.) 

Marshal Bazaine had not thought it advisable to 
proceed to Verdun now that the Germans were so close 
on the flank of such a movement. ..He preferred to 
assemble his forces at Metz, in a position which he 
rightly supposed to be almost impregnable. 

Such a position was afforded by the range of hills, 
bordering on the west of the valley of Chatel. That 
side facing the enemy sloped away like a glacis^ while 
the short and steep decline behind offered protection 
for the reserves.* The Second, Third, Fourth, and Sixth 
Corps were placed on the ridge of the hills between 
Roncourt and Rozerieulles, a distance of one mile and 
a half (German) ; thus there were eight or ten men to 
every yard of ground. 


A brigade of the Fifth Corps stood at Ste. Ruffine, in 
the valley of the Moselle, the cavalry in the rear of the 
two wings. 

The positions of the Second and Third Corps were 
hastily intrenched, batteries and covered ways were 
established, and the farm-honses in front prepared for 
defence. To approach this left wing from the west it 
was necessary to cross the deep valley of the Mance. 
The Sixth Corps, on the other hand, had no engineering 
tools ; and it is indicative of the general ill equipment 
of the French that, merely to convey the wounded to 
the rear, in spite of the enormous baggage-train, pro- 
vision wagons had to be unloaded and their contents 
bui'nt. This corps was therefore unable to construct 
such defences on the side overlooking the forest of 
Jaumont as were necessary to strengthen the right 
wing. This would undoubtedly have been the place 
for the Guards, but in liis fear of an attack from the 
south Marshal Bazaine kept them in reserve at Plappe- 

The King again arrived at Flavigny at six o'clock on 
the morning of the 18th. All officers in command were 
ordered to report directly to head-quarters, and Staff- 
officers of Army Head-quarters were dispatched in all 
directions to watch the progress of the engagement. 

The Seventh Army Corps, forming the pivot upon 
which the intended wheel to the right was to be effected, 
occupied the Bois de Vaux and Bois des Ognons ; the 
Eighth, under the personal command of the King, halted 
at Rezonville ready to proceed to the north or east, as 
might be required. The Ninth Corps on its left ad- 
vanced towards the Marcel, while the Third and Tenth 
formed the second line. The Guards and TweKth 
Corps moved in a northerly direction. 

A serious delay occurred when the Twelfth Corps of 


the Second Army, which was stationed on the right, was 
commanded to form the left wing, by the crossing of 
the two on the march. The Saxon troops did not get 
through Mars-la-Tour until nine o'clock, and till then 
the Guards could not follow. 

The advanced guard of the Twelfth Corps had mean- 
while reached Jarny, and proceeded as far as Briey 
without encountering the enemy. 

Before this could be known, the authorities at head- 
quarters had been convinced that at least the main 
forces of the enemy were still at Metz ; misapprehension, 
however, prevailed as to the extension of their lines, 
and it was thought the French front did not reach 
beyond Montigny. The Gleneral in command of the 
Second Army was therefore instructed not to proceed 
farther northward, but to join the Ninth Corps in 
attacking the enemy's right wing, and move in the 
direction of Batilly with the Guards and the Twelfth 
Corps. The First Army was not to attack in the front 
until the Second was ready to strike. 

In obedience to this Prince Frederick Charles ordered 
the Ninth Corps to march on to Verneville, and in case 
the French right wing should be found there, to open 
battle by bringing a large force of artillery into action. 
The Guards were to continue their advance via Don- 
court to reinforce the Ninth as soon as possible. The 
Twelfth were to remain at Jarny for the present. 

A little later fresh reports came in which indicated 
that the Ninth Corps, if proceeding in the manner 
ordered, would come upon the French centre, instead 
of their right wing. The Prince therefore determined 
that the corps should postpone the attack till the 
Guards had done so at Amanvillers. At the same time 
the Twelfth Corps was pushed on to Ste.-Marie-aux- 


But while these orders were being given, the first 
heavy firing was heard at Verneville. This was at 
twelve o'clock. 

The two corps on the left had, of their own accord, 
taken an easterly direction without waiting for orders, 
and the Third Corps moved up behind the Ninth at the 
farm of Caulre. 

General von Manstein, in command of the Ninth, had 
observed from near Verneville a French encampment 
at Amanvillers, apparently in a state of quietude. 
From that point of view the great masses of troops 
on their immediate left at St. Privat were not visible. 
Mistaking this camp for the right wing, he determined 
to act on his first orders and take the foe by surprise. 
Eight of his batteries at once opened fire. 

But it did not take the French troops long to move 
into the position assigned to them. The independent 
action of a single corps naturally exposed it not only 
tO' the fire of the troops opposite, but to an attack in 

To obtain some shelter on the field, the Prussian 
batteries had taken up a position on the shoulder of 
the hill below Amanvillers facing the south-east, where 
they were exposed from the north, on the flank, and 
even in the rear, to the fire of French artillery, as well 
as to the concentrated fire of their infantry. 

To meet this, the battalions nearest at hand were 
ordered forward. They took possession of the eastern 
point of the Bois de la Cusse on the left, and on the 
right seized the farm-houses of L'Envie and Chantrenne, 
forcing their way into the Bois des Genivaux. Thus 
the line of battle of the 18th Division gained a front of 
4000 paces. 

Its losses were very great, for the French with their 
long-range Chassepot rifles could afford to keep out 


of range of the needle-gun; the artillery especially 
suffered severely. One of the batteries had already 
lost forty-five gunners when it was attacked by French 
sharpshooters. There was no infantry at hand to 
retaliate, and two guns were lost. By two o'clock all 
the batteries were almost Jwrs-de-coinhat, and no relief 
arrived till the Hessian division reached Habonville, 
and brought up five batteries on either side of the rail- 
way, thus diverting on themselves the concentrated fire 
of the enemy. The batteries of the 18th Division, 
which had suffered most, could now be withdi-awn in 
succession, but even in their retreat they had to defend 
themselves against their pursuers by grapeshot. 

The artillery of the Third Corps and the Guards were 
likewise sent to the assistance of the Ninth, and those 
of the damaged guns that were still fit for service were 
at once brought into line. Thus a front of 130 guns 
was drawn up before Verneville as far as St. Ail, and 
its fire soon told upon the enemy. Now, when the 
Third Corps was approaching Verneville and the 3rd 
Brigade of Guards had reached Habonville, there was 
no fear that the French would break through the line. 

The main force of the Guards had arrived at St. Ail 
as early as two o'clock. General von Pape at once saw 
that by wheeling to the east he would not encounter 
the right wing of the French, which was to be out- 
flanked, but would expose his own left wing to the 
forces occupying Ste.-Marie-aux-Chenes. The first 
thing to be done was to gain possession of this village 
— almost a town. It was strongly occupied and well 
flanked by the main position of the French army ; but, 
in obedience to superior orders, he must await the 
arrival of a co-operative Saxon contingent. 

The advance guard of this corps had already reached 
the vicinity of Batilly, but was yet half a mile distance 


from Ste. Marie, so its batteries could not be placed in 
position west of the town until three o'clock. But as 
the Guards had sent most of their own artillery to the 
support of the Ninth Corps, this was substantial aid. 

Ten batteries now opened fire upon Ste. Marie, and 
by the time it was beginning to tell the 4-7th Brigade 
of the Twelfth Corps came up. At half -past three the 
Prussian and Saxon battalions stormed the town from 
the south and west and north, amid vociferous cheers, 
and without further returning the fire of the enemy. 
The French were driven from the place, and a few 
hundred were taken prisoners. 

The Saxons tried to follow them up, and a hvely 
infantry engagement ensued, north of Ste. Marie, 
which masked the artillery. As soon as the brigade 
had been ordered to retire, the batteries re-opened fire, 
and the repeated efforts of the French to regain the 
lost position were frustrated. 

Soon afterwards the Ninth Corps succeeded in taking 
and holding the farm of Champenois, but aU further 
attempts, by isolated battalions or companies, to force 
their way on against the broad and compact centre of 
the French were, on the face of it, futile. Thus, by 
about five o'clock, the infantry ceased fire, and the 
artillery only fired an occasional shot. Fatigue on both 
sides caused an almost total suspension of hostihties 
in this part of the field. 

The Commander-in-chief decided that the First Ai*my 
should not engage in serious assault until the Second 
stood close to the enemy ; but when the day was half 
spent and brisk firing was heard about noon from 
Vion^dlle, it was to be supposed that the time for action 
had arrived ; still, for the present permission was only 
given to send forward the artillery in preparation for 
the fight. 


Sixteen batteries of the Seventh and Eighth Corps 
accordingly drew up to the right and left of the high- 
way running through Grravelotte. Their fire was in- 
effective, as they were too far from the enemy; 
besides, they were suffering from the fire of the French 
tirailleurs who had established themselves in the 
opposite woods. It became necessary to drive them 
out, so here again there was a sharp skirmish. The 
French had to abandon the eastern portion of the 
Mance valley, and the artillery, now increased to twenty 
batteries, was able to advance to the western ridge 
and direct its fire against the main position of the 

The battalions of the 29th Brigade followed up this 
advantage. They pressed forward into the southern 
part of the Bois des Grenivaux on the left, but were 
unable to effect a connection with the Ninth Corps, 
occupying the north of the forest, as the French could 
not be driven from the intervening ground. On the 
right various detachments took possession of the 
quarries and gravel pits near St. Hubert. 

The artillery meanwhile had got the better of the 
French guns ; several of their batteries were silenced, 
others prevented from getting into position. The 
French fire was in part directed on the farm of St. 
Hubert, on which the 30th Brigade were gi-adually en- 
croaching. This well-defended structure was stormed 
at three o'clock close under the face of the enemy's 
main position, and in spite of a tremendous fire. The 
31st Brigade had also got across the valley, but an 
attempt to reach the farms of Moscow and Leipzig, 
over the open plain enclosed by the enemy on three 
sides, proved a failure and resulted in great loss. The 
26th Brigade had taken possession of Jussy, on the 
extreme right, thus maintaining the connection with 


Metz, but found it impossible to cross the deep valley 
of EozerieuUes. 

The advanced detachments of the French had been 
repulsed on all sides, the farms in their front were 
burning, their artillery appeared to be silenced, and, 
viewing the situation from Gravelotte, there remained 
nothing but pursuit. General von Steinmetz there- 
fore, at four o'clock, ordered fresh forces to the front 
for a renewed attack. 

While the Seventh Corps occupied the border of the 
wood, four batteries, backed by the First Cavalry Divi- 
sion, made their way through the narrow ravine ex- 
tending for about 1500 paces east of Gravelotte. But 
as soon as the advanced guard of the long column 
came in sight, the French redoubled their rifle and 
artillery fire, which had till now been kept under. One 
battery had soon lost the men serving four of its guns, 
and was hardly able to return into the wood ; a second 
never even got into i^osition. The batteries under 
Hasse and Gruiigge, on the other hand, held their own 
at St. Hubert in spite of the loss of seventy-five horses 
and of the firing from the quarries in their rear. 

The foremost regiment of cavalry wheeled to the 
right after leaving the hollow way, and gaUoped 
towards Point-du-Jour, but the enemy, being com- 
pletely under cover, offered no opportunity for an 
attack. Evidently this was no field for utilizing the 
cavahy, so the regiments retired through the Mance 
valley under a heavy fire from all sides. 

This ill success of the Germans encouraged the 
French to advance from Point-du-Jour with swarms 
of tirailleurs, who succeeded in diiving the Prussians 
back from the open ground as far as the skirts of the 
wood. The bullets of the Chassepots even reached 
the hill where the Commander-in-chief was watching 


the battle, and Prince Adalbert's horse was shot under 

Fresh forces were now at hand and drove the enemy- 
back to his main position. St. Hubert had remained 
in the hands of the Germans ; and thongh the survivors 
there were only sufficient to serve one gun, still every 
attempt to cross the exposed plateau proved a failure. 
Thus hostilities ceased at this point also, at about five 
o'clock in the afternoon, allowing the weary troops on 
both sides to take breath and reorganize. 

King William and his staff rode over to the hill on 
the south of Malmaison at about the same hour, but 
could see nothing of the situation of the left wing, 
which was more than a mile away. The French ar- 
tillery had ceased firing along the centre, from La Folie 
to Point-du- Jour ; but to the northwards the thunder 
of artillery was louder than ever. It was six o'clock, 
the day was nearly at an end, and decided action must 
at once be taken. The King therefore ordered the First 
Army to advance once more, and for that purpose 
placed the Second Corps, just arrived after a long 
march, under the command of General von Steinmetz. 

Those battalions of the Seventh Corps which could 
still do good service, except five, which were kept in 
reserve, were again sent up the Mance valley, and the 
battalions from the Bois de Vaux came to their support 
towards Point-du-Jour and the quarries. The Second 
Corps of the French army thus attacked was now rein- 
forced by Guard Voltigeur Division. All the reserves 
were brought to the front. The artillery was more 
rapidly served, and a destructive musketry fire was 
directed on the advancing enemy. Then the French 
on their side made an attack. A strong body of rifle- 
men dispersed the smaller parties who were lying in 
the open, destitute of commanders, and drove them 


back to the wood. There, however, their advance was 
checked, and there was still another army corps ready 
for action. 

The Second Corps, the last to come np by rail to the 
seat of war, had up to this time followed in the wake 
of the army by forced marches, but had not yet fought 
in any engagement. It had started from Pont-a-Mous- 
son at two p.m. and, taking the road by Buxieres and 
Rezonville, arrived south of Gravelotte in the evening. 
The Pomeranians were eager to get at the enemy with- 
out delay. 

It would have been better if the Chief of the Staff, 
who was personally on the field at the time, had not 
allowed this movement at so late an hour. A body of 
troops, still completely intact, might have been of 
great value the next day ; it was not likely this evening 
to effect the issue. 

Eushing out of Gravelotte, the foremost battalions 
of the Second Corps pushed forward to the quarries, 
and up to within a few hundred paces of Point-du- 
Jour ; but those following were soon entangled in the 
turmoil of the troops under fire south of St. Hubert, 
and any further advance towards Moscow was arrested. 
Darkness was falling, and friend became indistinguish- 
able from foe. So the firing was stopped; but not 
until ten o'clock did it entirely cease. 

The advance of the Second Corps resulted in some 
good, however, for these fresh troops could occupy the 
fighting line for the night, while the mixed companies 
of the Seventh and Eighth Corps were enabled to re- 
form in their rear. 

The whole course of the engagement had conclusively 
proved that the position of the French left wing, made 
almost impregnable by nature and art, could not be 
shaken even by the most devoted bravery and the 


greatest sacrifices. Both parties were now facing each 
other in threatening proximity, and both fully able to 
re-open battle next morning. The success of the day 
must depend on events at the other end of the French 

The Prince of Wiii'temberg, standing at Ail, believed 
that the hour had come for an attack on the French 
right at about a quarter past five ; but that wing ex- 
tended much further north than the line of his Guards, 
further, indeed, than the French Commander-in-chief 
himself was aware of. Though the Saxons had partici- 
pated in the capture of Ste.-Marie-aux-Chenes, the 
Crown Prince deemed it necessary to assemble his 
corps at the Bois d'Auboue, to attack the enemy in 
flank. One of the brigades had to come from Jarny, 
and one from Ste. Marie ; so, as the corps was late in 
getting away from Mars-la-Tour, it was not expected 
to be on the field for some hours yet. 

The 4th Brigade of Foot Gruards, in obedience to 
orders, proceeded in the direction of Jerusalem, im- 
mediately south of St. Privat. As soon as General 
von Manstein,in command of the Ninth Corps, observed 
this, he ordered the 3rd Brigade of Guards, which had 
been placed at his orders, to advance from Habonville 
towards Amanvillers. 

Between these two brigades marched the Hessians, 
but it was not till half an hour later that the 1st Divi- 
sion of Guards joined from Ste. Marie, marching on 
St. Privat, on the left of the 2Dd. This attack was 
dii'ected against the broad front of the French Fourth 
and Sixth Corps. Their fortified positions at St. Privat 
and Amanvillers had as yet hardly felt the fire of the 
German batteries, which had found sufiicient employ- 
ment in replying to the enemy's artillery outside the 


Several ranks of riflemen, one above the other, were 
placed in front of the French main position, on the 
hedges and fences in a slope up the ridge. At their 
back towered St. Privat, castle-like, with its massive 
buildings, which were crowded by soldiers to the very- 
roof. The open plain in front was thus exposed to an 
overwhelming shower of projectiles. 

The losses of the attacking Guards were, in fact, 
enormous. In the course of half an hour five battal- 
ions lost all, the others the greater part of their 
officers, especially those of the higher grades. Thou- 
sands of dead and wounded marked the track of the 
troops, who, in spite of their losses, pressed forward. 
The ranks, as fast as they were thinned, closed up 
again, and! theii' compact formation was not broken 
even under the leadership of young lieutenants and 
ensigns. As they got nearer to the enemy the needle- 
gun did good service. The French were di'iven from 
all their foremost positions, where, for the most part, 
they did not await the final struggle. By a quarter- 
past six the battalions had advanced to within 600 to 
800 paces of Amanvillers and St. Privat. The troops, 
weary from long combat, halted under the steeper 
slopes offering some, though small, protection, and in 
the trenches just abandoned by the enemy. Only four 
battalions now remained in reserve at Ste. Marie, be- 
hind the German line, which now extended to a length 
of 4000 paces. Every charge of the French cavalry 
and of Cissy's division had been persistently repelled 
with the aid of twelve batteries of the Guards, which 
had now put in an appearance, but the German troops, 
reduced, as they were, by untold losses, had to face 
two French corps for thirty minutes longer before 
reinforcements came to their aid. 

It was nearly seven o'clock when, to the left of the 


Guards, two brigades of the Saxon infantry arrived 
on the field ; the other two were still assembling in the 
forest of Auboue; their artillery, however, had for 
some time kept up a lively fire on Roncourt. 

When Bazaine, at three o'clock, received word that 
the Germans were extending the line to enclose his 
right wing, he ordered Picard's division of the Grena- 
dier Guards, posted at Plappeville, to advance to the 
scene of action. Though the distance was no more 
than a mile through the wooded valley on the right of 
the highway, his all-important reinforcement had not 
yet arrived at seven o'clock, and Marshal Canrobert, 
who was hardly able, by the most strenuous efforts, 
to check the advance of the Prussians, decided to rally 
his troops closer to the fortified town of St. Privat. 
The retreat from Roncourt was to be covered by a 
small rear-guard, as the border of the Bois de Jaumont 
was to be held. 

Thus it happened that the Saxons found less resist- 
ance at Roncourt than they expected, and entered the 
town after a short struggle, together with the compa- 
nies of the extreme left of the Guards ; part of them had 
previously been diverted from the road to Roncourt 
to assist the Guards, and marched dir^ect on St. Privat. 

There terrible havoc was worked by the twenty-four 
batteries of the two German corps. Many houses were 
in flames, or falling in ruins under the shower of shell. 
But the French were determined to defend this point, 
where the fate of the day was to be decided to the last. 
The batteries belonging to their right wing were placed 
between St. Privat and the Bois de Jaumont, that is, 
on the flank of the advancing Saxons. Others faced 
the Prussians from the south, and as the German 
columns came on side by side they were received by a 
shower of bullets from the French rifles. 


All these obstacles were defied in the onward rush, 
though again under heavy losses, some stopping here 
and there to fire a volley, others again never firing a 
shot. By sundown they stood within 300 paces of St. 
Privat. Some detachments of the Tenth Corps, who 
were on the road to St. Ail, now joined them, and the 
final onset was made from every side at once. The 
French still defended the burning houses and the 
church with gi-eat obstinacy, till, finding themselves 
completely surrounded, they surrendered at about 
eight o'clock. More than 2000 men were taken prison- 
ers, and the wounded were rescued from the burning 

The defeated remnant of the Fourth French Corps 
retii^ed towards the valley of the Moselle, their retreat 
being covered by the brigade occupying the Bois de 
Jaumont and by the cavahy. 

Only at that period did the Grenadier Guards put 
in an appearance, drawing up the artillery reserves 
east of Amanvillers. The German batteries at once 
took up the fight, which lasted till late in the night, 
and Amanvillers also was left burning. 

Here the retirement of the Fourth French Corps had 
already commenced, screened by repeated severe on» 
slaughts ; the right wing of the Guards and the left of 
the Ninth Corps had a hvely hand-to-hand encounter 
with the enemy. Still the town remained in the hands 
of the French for the night. Their Third Corps main- 
tained their position at Moscow until three o'clock, and 
the Second until five o'clock in the morning, though 
engaged in constant frays with the outposts of the 
Pomeranian Division, who eventually took possession 
of the plateaus of Moscow and Point-du-Jour. 

This success of the 18th August had only been made 
possible by the preceding battles of the 14:th and 16th. 


The French estimate their losses at 13,000 men. In 
October 173,000 were still in Metz, which proves that 
more than 180,000 French engaged in the battle of the 
18th. The seven German corps facing them were 
exactly 178,818 strong. Thus the French had been 
diiven out of a position of almost unrivalled natural 
advantages by a numerically inferior force. It is seK- 
evident that the loss of the aggressors must have been 
much greater than that of the defence ; it amounted 
to 20,584 men, among them 899 officers. 

Though the war establishment provides one officer 
to every forty men, in this battle one officer had been 
killed to every twenty- three ; a splendid testimony to 
the example set by the officers to their brave men, but 
a loss which could not be made good during the course 
of the war. During the first fortnight of August, in 
six battles the Germans had lost 50,000 men. It was 
impossible at once to find substitutes, but new com- 
panies were formed of time-expired soldiers. 

The first thing to be done that same evening was to 
move on the foremost baggage train, and the ambu- 
lance corps from the right bank of the Moselle ; ammu- 
nition was also served out aU round. In Rezonville, 
which was crowded with the wounded, a little garret 
for the King and quarters for the Staff had with much 
difficulty been secured. The officers were engaged 
throughout the night in studying the requirements 
which the new situation created by the victory per- 
emptorily demanded. AU these orders were placed 
before his Majesty for approval by the morning of the 


The siege of Metz had formed no part of the original 
plan of campaign ; it had been intended to station a 


corps of observation in the vicinity of this fortress, 
while the main army should advance on Paris; the 
reserve division, consisting of eighteen battalions, six- 
teen squadrons, and thirty-six guns, detailed for that 
duty, was now near at hand. 

Under existing circumstances, however, the town 
must be invested, and this necessitated a complete re- 
distribution of the army. 

A special army was formed for that purpose under 
the command of Prince Frederick Charles, consisting 
of the First, Seventh, and Eighth Corps of the former 
First Army, the Second, Third, Ninth, and Tenth 
Corps of the Second Army, the reserve division and 
the 1st and 3rd Cavahy Divisions, in all 150, 000 men. 

The Ninth and the Twelfth Corps of The Gruards, 
and the 5th and 6th Cavalry Divisions were placed 
under the command of the Crown Prince of Saxony, 
and called " The Army of the Meuse " ; it was 138,000 
strong. This and the Third Army, amounting to 
223,000 men, were directed to advance against the 
Trench reforming at Chalons^ 

The besieging force was still weaker than the block- 
aded enemy. It was to be expected that the French 
would renew their efforts to force their way westward. 
Prince Frederick Charles' main forces were therefore 
to remain on the left bank of the Moselle. 

All these orders were signed by the King and dis- 
patched to the officers in command by eleven o'clock. 

Prince Frederick Charles now directed the Tenth 
Corps to occupy the woodland districts of the Lower 
Moselle as far as St. Privat, while the Second was to 
take up its position on the high ridge between that 
point and Moscow. The Seventh and Eighth Corps 
joined them on the right, the first-named encamp- 
ing on both sides of the IFpper Moselle. The First 


Corps stood near Pouilly, to the left and right of the 
Seille, especially commissioned to protect the great 
magazines, which were to be established at Remilly 
and Pont-a-Monsson. The 3rd Reserve Division pro- 
ceeded to the vicinity of Retonfay, north-east of Metz. 
The Ninth and Third Corps encamped at Ste. Marie and 
Verneville in reserve. All these troops immediately 
began to throw up earthworks and dig trenches, while 
bridges were thrown over the Moselle above and below 
the fortress. 

The corps belonging to the Army of the Mense were 
also set in motion, the Twelfth assembling at Conflans 
and the Guards at Mars-la-Tour ; the Fourth Corps, 
which had not been ordered to Metz, had already 
reached Commercy. 

The Third Army, after crossing the mountains and 
leaving a Bavarian brigade to blockade Toul, had 
advanced in three columns. Its foremost corps had 
ah'eady reached the Meuse, but were obliged to encamp 
there for two days, to cross with the rest of the Meuse 
army near that point. Its cavalry meanwhile patroUed 
the territory as far as Chalons and Vitry, and there, 
for the first time since Worth, renewed acquaintance 
with the enemy. The French encountered were only 
outposts on the Marne railway linCj^'who retired as 
soon as the transport service was finished. 


Meanwhile a French army had formed at Chalons, 
consisting of 166 battalions, 100 squadrons, and 380 
guns, belonging to the First, Fifth, Seventh, and 
Twelfth Corps. 

The division originally stationed on the Spanish 
frontier formed its nucleus, to which were added four 
regiments of marine infantry and two divisions of 


cavalry, tlius constituting a very superior force. Gen- 
eral Trochu, who had been made Governor of Paris, 
had taken with him eighteen battalions of the Garde 
Mohile^ they having behaved in such a refractory 
manner that it would have been rash to confront them 
with the enemy. 

The Emperor had arrived in Chalons and placed 
Marshal MacMahon in command of the newly-formed 
army. At the Imperial head-quarters it was supposed, 
and with good reason, that Marshal Bazaine was re- 
treating from Metz. The army of Chalons could easily 
unite with that of Bazaine by proceeding to Verdun, 
only a distance of a few days' marches, and the com- 
bined armies might indeed have held their own 
against the victorious Germans. MacMahon, on the 
other hand, had to provide for the defence of Paris, 
and that capital, no less than his own right flank, was 
threatened by the advance of the Crown Prince of 
Prussia's army to the Meuse. 

To enable MacMahon to decide whether he should 
advance or again retire, it was necessary that the 
direction taken by Marshal Bazaine should be known. 

On the 18th Bazaine had sent word that he had 
maintained his position in a battle near Rezonville, 
but that the troops, before marching further, must 
have food and ammunition. From this it seemed only 
too probable that the communications of the Army of 
the Rhine were already threatened, and MacMahon 
determined to march on Rheims, whence he could 
either reach Paris, though by a somewhat roundabout 
way, or turn back and effect a junction with the other 

But when it became known that the Crown Prince 
of Prussia's army had not even been near Metz, and 
that Prussian cavahy had akeady appeared before 


Vitry, the Marshal recognized the danger of such an 
undertaking. He therefore determined to march on 
Paris, and very wisely refused to obey the order of the 
Empress and the Ministerial Council when they desired 
him to take the other course. Outside Paris he could 
risk a battle with advantage, since the fortifications, 
even in the event of defeat, guaranteed a safe retreat 
and made j^ursuit impossible. 

Additional reports from Metz did not help to clear 
up the situation there. Even on the 18th " they had 
held their ground," the narrative ran, " the right wing 
alone had changed front ; the troops required two to 
three days' rest," but the Marshal " was still determined 
to press forward in a northerly direction," and fight 
his way to Chalons, via Montmedy and Ste. Menehould, 
" i/"" this road was not too strongly held by the enemy. 
In that case he would march on Sedan, and even by 
Mezieres on Chalons. 

But Bazaine might already have begun this move- 
ment, so MacMahon, who would not desert his com- 
rades, abandoned the idea of marching directly on 
Paris, and, on the 23rd, took the road to Stenay. 

This sudden decision left no time for the dispositions 
necessary for such an undertaking. 4-t the end of the 
first day's march the troops arrived, late in the evening, 
on the banks of the Suippe Eiver in a pouring rain. 
They lacked every necessary, and two corps were en- 
tirely without food. The Marshal was therefore forced 
to move further northward to Rethel, where large 
victualling magazines had been established, and whence 
stores could be sent after them by rail. Even on the 
third day's march the army had made little progress 
eastward. The left wing was left at Rethel, the right 
got as far as the Aisne, near Vouziers. On August 
26th the main force was still standing between Attigny 


and Le Chene, on the Ardennes canal, while the Seventh 
Corps and a regiment of hussars were posted in front 
of Vonziers to cover the right flank„ 

While the French army was thus making a wide 
detour to the east, the Grerman forces, which had been 
put in motion at the same time, were marching in a 
straight line westward. 

According to orders issued from head-quarters at 
Pont-a-Mousson, the advance on the enemy, who was 
supposed to be at Chalons, was to be effected in such 
a manner as to give the Third Army, marching on the 
left of the Army of the Meuse, a day's start, so as to 
attack the French wherever they might make a stand, 
both in front and on the right flank, and thus force 
them off the Paris route to the northward. The two 
armies were to converge as they advanced, and to reach 
the line of Ste. Menehould and Vitry on the 26th. 

On the first day's march, the troops being still twelve 
miles apart, they reached the Meuse ; on the second 
day, the 24th, they were in a Hue formed by St. Dizier, 
Bar le Due, and Verdun. The attempt to take Verdun 
and Toul on their route proved futile. 

The 4th Cavalry Division, which had greatly ex- 
tended its reconnoitring expeditions, brought in im- 
portant news even on that early date. The Rhenish 
dragoons had discovered that Chalons and the camp 
at Mourmelon were deserted, and, though the stores 
in camp had been burnt, they found plenty of loot. A 
letter, written by a French officer, had been intercepted, 
which intimated that MacMahon purposed to relieve 
Metz; and another stated that MacMahon was en- 
trenched at Rheims with 150,000 men ; this was cor- 
roborated by the Paris newspapers. 

On the 25th the Army of the Meuse formed a line 
reaching from Sommeille to Dombasle, while the fore- 


most columns of the Third Army were already on the 
route to St. Menehould and Vitry, one day ahead of 
the prescribed order. The small fortress of Vitry, 
having been previously vacated by a battalion of 
Mobiles, surrendered to the 4th Cavahy Division. This 
battalion, of 1000 men, fell into the hands of the 6th 
Cavahy Division riding towards Dampierre as they 
were marching to Ste. Menehould to take the railway 
to Paris. 

The 5th Cavalry Division reached Ste. Menehould, 
and the 12th followed as far as Clermont, patrolling 
the neighborhood up to Varennes, within two miles of 
the French outposts at Grand Pre, but without learn- 
ing anything about the operations of the French army. 

Reconnoitring to any gi'eat distance on the right of 
the army was made difficult by the forest of Argonnes, 
which it would have been rash for the cavalry to 
traverse unaided by infantry. The inhabitants of that 
district also became troublesome. The Government 
had provided them with arms, and organized a general 
rising. The Germans, who up to that period had made 
war on the Emperor alone, were now forced to use 
their arms against the people. The Franc-tireurs, 
though not affecting the operations on a large scale, 
were a source of much annoyance to sm^ll expeditions ; 
and as it naturally harassed the soldiers to feel that 
they were not safe by day or night, the character of 
the war became more embittered, and increased the 
sufferings of the people. 

A Paris telegram, sent via London, arrived this day 
at head-quarters at Bar le Due. It stated that Mac- 
Mahon was encamped at Eheims and anxious to effect 
a junction with Bazaine. 

It is always a serious matter to abandon, without 
the most pressing necessity, a once settled and well- 


devised plan for a new and unprepared scheme. It 
would have been unjustifiable to entirely change the 
line of march on the ground of rumors that might, 
after all, prove unfounded. Endless difficulties must 
result from such a course ; the arrangements for bring- 
ing up baggage and reserves would have to be cancelled, 
and the confidence of the troops in their commanders 
was liable to be shaken if they were called upon to 
perform fruitless marches. The orders issued at eleven 
o'clock next day, therefore, directed only a slight devia- 
tion from the route laid down towards Rheims instead 
of Chalons. The cavalry, on the right wing, however, 
was ordered to advance to Buzancy and Vouziers, 
where a thorough insight into the situation might be 

In war, probabilities alone have often to be reckoned 
with; and the probability, as a rule, is that the enemy 
will do the riulit tlnng. It could not be thought prob- 
able that the French army would leave Paris unpro- 
tected and march by the Belgian frontier to Metz. 
Such a move seemed strange and somewhat foolhardy ; 
stiU it was possible. The Chief of the Staff, recogniz- 
ing this fact, worked out a scheme of marches that 
same day, by which the three corps of the Army of the 
Meuse, together with the two nearest Bavarian corps, 
could be brought together in the vicinity of DanviUers, 
on the right bank of the Meuse, within three days. 

These forces, with the two reserve corps left at Metz, 
which could be brought into action, would constitute 
a force of 150,000 men, who might give battle there, 
or compel the enemy to do so a little further on at 
Louguyon. Even without this reserve the advance of 
the French could be checked before they could cross 
the Meuse, while some other corps of the Third Army 
was brought up. 


This plan of action was soon to be carried out. 
Fresh news arrived that same afternoon. The news- 
papers let out the secret by publishing vehement 
speeches delivered in the National Assembly to the 
effect " that the French General, leaving his comrade 
in the lurch, was bringing the curses of the country 
upon his head." 

It would be a disgi-ace, they said, to the French 
nation to leave the brave Bazaine unsuccored; from 
all this, and considering the effect of phrases on the 
French, it was to be expected that military considera- 
tions would give way to political. A telegram from 
London, quoting the Paris Temps^ reported that Mac- 
Mahon had suddenly resolved to hasten to the assist- 
ance of Bazaine, though an abandonment of the road 
to Paris placed the country in danger. 

The King, before night, approved of the march to 
the right, and the necessary orders to the commanders 
of the corps were dispatched that night. 

On the 26th his Majesty moved his head-quarters to 
Clermont. The Crown Prince of Saxony had set out 
for Varennes early in the morning with the Twelfth 
Corps, while he ordered the Gruards to Dombasle, and 
the Fourth Corps to Fleury. 

The cavalry, sent forward in every direction, found 
that the enemy had evacuated the Suippe Valley and 
had not yet entered that of the Meuse ; that Buzancy 
and Grrand Pre were in the hands of the French, and 
that their Seventh Corps were encamped in consider- 
able force on the heights of Vouziers. 

A small detachment of cavalry proceeded to that 
point for observation, and theii* mere appearance 
occasioned an almost unaccountable excitement. 

General Douay, quartered at Vouziers, received the 
most exaggerated reports, and must have thought that 


a general attack by the G-erman army was imminent. 
The Seventh Corps was kept under arms the entire 
night, though it was raining in torrents, and the Mar- 
shal resolved to advance towards Vouziers and Buzancy 
with all his forces next morning. Thus the march to 
the east was brought to an end as early as the 27th, 
but it was soon discovered that these rumors were 

The German generals were not less interested in 
gaining a thorough knowledge of the enemy's move- 
ments than the French staff was in knowing those of 
the Germans. If the enemy had handled their cavalry 
well on their right flank, a surprise like that above 
mentioned would have been impossible, but the 1st 
French Cavalry Division was placed on the left, where 
there was no danger whatever, and the 2nd were in 
their rear. 

It seemed as though they had paid less attention to 
repelling an attack than to evading one, and reaching 
Montmedy, the point of rendezvous with Bazaine, 

At this period, when the advance of the G^ermans 
from the south could no longer be doubted, it would 
have been best for the French to tui-n against them 
and strike a decisive blow, or at least to clear them 
out of the way of their own line of march. If they 
had failed in this, they would at any rate have learned 
that their undertaking was impracticable and its con- 
tinuation sure to lead to a catastrophe. 

It must, however, be admitted that the German 
cavalry formed an almost impenetrable screen. The 
Marshal could not know that the Germans were eche- 
loned from Vitry to Varennes (a distance of eight 
miles), and were not at all in a position to attack him 
on the spot. 


(August 27tli.) On this day, as soon as the Marshal 
had discovered his error, he continued his march, with 
part of his troops at least. The Seventh and Fifth 
Corps were directed to cover the movement at Vouziers 
and Buzancy, the Twelfth advanced to Le Chene and 
the 1st Cavalry Division to Beaumont, probably to 
ascertain when Marshal Bazaine would arrive. The 
First Corps and the 2nd Cavahy Division remained 
by the Aisne. 

The Saxons, the foremost of the German corps, had 
received explicit orders to proceed to Dun on that day, 
and occupy the right bank of the Meuse as far as 
Stenay in order to secure a crossing. They reached 
Stenay at three o'clock in the afternoon, and sent an 
advanced post across the river. 

The cavalry hung on to the heels of the enemy and 
followed all their movements, often engaging in small 
skirmishes. The departure of the Fifth French Corps 
from Buzancy for Le Chene was at once discovered, 
and so was the advance to Beaumont ; the Saxon cav- 
alry division was in consequence sent on that evening 
to Nouart. The Bavarian Corps reached the Clermont- 
Verdun road, the 5th Ste. Menehould ; the other corps 
of the Third Army followed by forced marches north- 
wards. "" 

It now seemed certain that it would be possible to 
meet the enemy on the left bank of the Meuse. Word 
was sent to the army before Metz, that the two corps 
asked for were no longer required, but they had mean- 
while set out. 

The latest dispositions made by Marshal MacMahon 
indicated that he was making a last effort to proceed 
on the pre-arranged lines. He was moving in echelon 
on the northernmost road to Metz, but had left a strong 
reserve corps on the Aisne to check a possible attack. 


Wlien lie now learned that nothing had been seen of the 
Army of the Rhine at Montmedy, but that it was still 
at Metz, he resolved on retreat, and, after giving orders 
to that effect for next morning, reported his intentions 
to Paris. 

From thence, during the night, came the most urgent 
remonstrances. The Minister of War telegraphed, "If 
you leave Bazaine in the lurch, revolution will break 
out," and the Ministerial Council issued a peremptory 
order to relieve Metz. The troops in front of him, 
they said, were only part of the investing army ; the 
Crown Prince of Prussia was still several days' march 
in the rear, and Greneral Vinoy had already started 
from Rheims with the newly-formed Thirteenth Corps 
to protect Paris. 

The Marshal silenced his military convictions and 
issued new orders, but the troops had started betimes. 
The change of route gave rise to mucli confusion ; the 
roads were bad, and quarters for the night were not 
reached until darkness had long set in ; the men were 
weary, wet to the skin, and depressed in spirits. 

(August 28th.) Hardly two miles' progress had been 
made east. The Twelfth Corps stood at La Besace, 
the First was on the way to Le Chene, the Seventh 
had halted at Boult aux Bois, its commander having 
been misinformed that two Prussian corps were occu- 
pying Buzancy, a little further on. On the strength 
of this report the Fifth Corps advanced on that town, 
by way of Bar, but went on to Bois-des-Dames in the 
afternoon. These movements were not interfered 
with. The G-erman cavalry had express orders to re- 
strict itseK to reconnoitring, and, while following the 
French as closely as possible, not in any way to check 
or press them. In consequence of these orders, the 
Saxon cavalry evacuated Nouart on the approach of 


the enemy. The Grermans were not yet prepared for 
action till the Third Army had arrived ; and the rear 
of that force, formed by the Sixth Corps, had only 
just reached Ste. Menehould. 

(Ang:ust 29th.) It was therefore decided that a non- 
offensive attitude should be preserved. Even on the 
29th a decisive move was deferred until the 30th. 

The Marshal, in his head-quarters at Stonne, had 
been informed that the Germans occupied Dun, and 
that the bridges over the Meuse had been destroyed. 
The French had no pontoon-train, and there were no 
means of crossing the river excepting lower down, at 
Mouzon and Villers. His Twelfth Corps and the 1st 
Cavahy Division succeeded in effecting their passage 
at these points ; the First Corps and the 2d Cavalry 
Division proceeded to Roncourt. 

The Seventh Corps, delayed in its progi'ess by skir- 
mishing on its right flank, did not reach its quarters 
at La Besace, but bivouacked at Oches. The Fifth 
Corps was to proceed to Beaumont, but the staff officer 
carrying the order fell into the hands of the Prussian 
cavalry, together with his escort. General de Failly 
therefore marched to Stenay, according to his original 

Up to this time the cavalry of the Saxon corps 
alone had come into contact with the enemy, but the 
Guards now relieved it at Buzancy, while the cavalry 
recrossed to the left bank of the Meuse at Dun. Their 
advanced guard at once took possession of the wooded 
spur to the north-east of Nouart, repelled the French 
cavahy, and pressed ahead to Champy, where they 
encountered a strong force. This was Lespart's divis- 
ion. The purpose of the reconnoissance had been 
attained, and the advanced guard withdrew. The 
French having meanwhile received fresh orders from 


MacMahon, marched off at the same time in a northerly 

Four corps of the Third G-erman Army were now 
within two miles of the rear of the Army of the Meuse. 
The 5th Cavalry Division stood at Attigny across the 
enemy's lines of communication ; the 6th was following 
on the heels of the French, and, besides other exploits, 
had taken Boucq with a dismounted party. The Royal 
head-quarters were now established at Grand Pre, and 
upon receipt of the various reports it was decided to 
attack the French on the following day, before they 
could cross the Meuse. The Army of the Meuse was 
to press forward towards Beaumont, the Third to take 
the route between that place and Le Chene. To insure 
the simultaneous arrival of both bodies, the right wing 
was not to move until ten o'clock, while the left began 
the march before six o'clock. Only those sections of the 
train absolutely necessary for battle were to follow. 


(August 30th.) 

On the 30th of August, at ten o'clock, the King pro- 
ceeded to Sommauthe rid Buzancy. 

Both Bavarian corps were marching by the same 
route, the Fifth Corps advanced in the centre towards 
Oches, the Eleventh and the Wiirtemberg division 
were on the way to Le Chene, the Sixth to Vouziers. 
The Fourth Corps on the right was advancing by 
Belval, and the Twelfth followed the course of the 
Meuse, with the Guards as a reserve in the rear. 

Marshal MacMahon had issued orders that his entire 
army was to concentrate this day on the right bank 
of the Meuse, only the baggage and ambulance were 
to remain. 


This First Corps and the 2nd Cavahy Division had 
left Roncourt at the early hour of seven ; they crossed 
at Reniilly, pontoon bridges had been thrown over for 
the infantry. 

The Seventh Corps at Oches struck camp still earlier, 
at four o'clock, but as its commander insisted on tak- 
ing the entire train, even empty wagons, it formed a 
column of two miles in length, and seven of its battal- 
ions were forced to march off the road to protect them. 
The rear-guard, consisting of one brigade, was unable 
to start before ten o'clock. This long procession soon 
came into contact with the Prussian cavalry and the ar- 
tillery following, who by their fire forced the brigade to 
retire. Not till one o'clock could the march to La Besace 
be resumed, and as heavy firing was constantly heard 
from Beaumont, General Douay conceived it right to 
abandon the road to Mouzon and take that to Remilly. 

The Fifth Corps, as had been foreseen, was destined 
to cover the withdrawal of the other two. These troops 
had reached the vicinity of Beaumont only at four 
A.M., and were thoroughly exhausted by the fighting 
and night march. 

General de Fa illy therefore determined to give his 
men time to cook a meal before proceeding. Pre- 
cautionary measures seem to have been altogether 
neglected, though he must have known that the enemy 
was near at hand, and at half -past one, while the officers 
and m.en were at dinner, the Prussian shell dropped 
into the lines of the incautious enemy. 

The two corps on the German right had to move 
upon four quite separate columns through the woods, 
and over roads made heavy by rain. The Crown 
Prince of Saxony therefore ordered that neither of the 
columns should attempt to attack before the support- 
ing column was ready to assist. 


The Fourtli Corps had got off very early, and after 
a short rest proceeded on its way at ten o'clock. 
When at noon the advanced gnard of the 8th Division 
left the forest, they discovered, from their elevated 
position, the camp of the enemy about 800 paces away, 
employed as above described. Greneral von Scholer 
would not lose such an opportunity ; at all events the 
presence of his force could not long be concealed, so 
he made it known by the fire of guns. 

He was soon made aware that he had attacked an 
enemy of superior strength. The French immediately 
took up arms and sent swarms of riflemen to the front, 
who, with their long-ranged Chassepots, did great ex- 
ecution, especially among the artillery. The main body 
of the 8th Division had meanwhile come up, and ere 
long the 7th Division appeared on the right. The 
French attacked these too with great impetuosity, and 
could only be repulsed with the bayonet. Presently, 
however, the foremost battalions of both divisions 
made their way into the French camp in front of 
Beaumont, into the town itself, and finally into a 
second camp north of that place. Seven guns, of 
which the teams were missing, and which continued 
firing up to the last moment, a number of gunners, 
wagons a,nd horses, fell into the hands of the assailants. 

Whilst thus, at two o'clock, the infantry were for a 
time in action, fourteen batteries of the Fourth Corps, 
drawn up on the heights north of Beaumont, were en- 
gaged in a duel with the French artillery. The Saxon 
artillery soon came up on the right, and the Bavarian 
on the left. This formidable artillery line, constantly 
advancing in echelon, presently silenced the mitrail- 
leuses, and at three o'clock the remaining French bat- 
teries also went out of action. 

The Second Bavarian Corps had advanced on La 


Thibaudine, on the left of the Prussian Fourth, when 
it was suddenly attacked by a strong body of French 
coming from the west. 

These belonged to Conseil Dumesnil's division of 
the Seventh French Corps, and were " still proceeding 
to Mouzon, according to their original marching 
orders. They were no less surprised than the Bava- 
rians, who attacked them in front and flank. They 
gave up all hope of cutting their way through, and at 
about four o'clock beat a hasty retreat northwards, 
leaving two guns behind. 

The Bavarians had in the meantime taken possession 
of the Farm of Thibaudine, and the Prussians of Har- 
noterie. The wooded hills prevented a clear view of 
the surrounding country ; the enemy had completely 

General de Failly was making strenuous efforts to 
collect his scattered forces at Mouzon, under cover of 
his rear-guard stationed at La Sartelle ; and Greneral 
Lebrun, of the Twelfth French Corps, sent an infantry 
and a cavalry brigade and three batteries back across 
the Meuse to his assistance. 

The 8th Division, headed by the 13th Brigade, 
worked wearily through the dense forest of Grivodeau, 
on its way to operate against this ne^ defensive posi- 
tion. This was at five o'clock. On emerging from the 
wood the battalions, who had fallen into some confu- 
sion, were received by a heavy fire at short range. 
The riflemen made several fruitless attempts to ad- 
vance, and the dense underwood prevented a closer 
formation of troops in rear. By the time the Saxon 
Corps had succeeded, by gi'eat exertions, in extricating 
itself from the forest and swamp by the Wamme, and 
finally reaching Letanne, the impracticability of further 
progi'ess in the Meuse valley became apparent, since 


French batteries, in impregnable positions, commanded 
the low ground beyond the river. The troops there- 
fore ascended the plateau, and followed the 8th Divis- 
ion through the Grivodeau woods, increasing the force 
on the northern border, where, however, the develop- 
ment of a broader front was impossible. At about 
six o'clock the infantry engagement ceased for a time 
at this point. 

The 14th Brigade had come into line on the left of 
the 13th, followed by the 8th Division, in two columns. 

The 93rd Eegiment had stormed the hill to the 
north-east of Yoncq, and pursued the enemy to the 
foot of Mont-de-Brune. The Anhalters captured four 
mitraiUeuses and eight guns, some of them with their 
entire teams. 

When, at half -past five, the artillery were in position, 
and at the same time the 27th Regiment was approach- 
ing, General Zychlinski advanced to the main attack. 

The French occupied the entirely isolated hill-top 
with a strong body of troops ; their batteries faced the 
Bois de Givodeau on the east, whence an assault was 
imminent, but when the 93rd and the 2nd Battalion of 
the 27th advanced on them from the south they changed 
front towards their aggressors, and opened upon them 
a heavy fire. The Fusilier battalion was at the same 
time approaching from the west. Regardless of their 
losses, the assailants eagerly scaled the hiU-sides, with 
the brigadiers and colonels at their head. Six French 
guns were seized while in action, in spite of a brave 
resistance from the gunners and their escorts, the 
enemy was pursued as far as the Roman road, and 
four more guns, completely horsed and equipped, which 
had been abandoned by the French, fell into the hands 
of the victorious troops. 

The three battalions hurried on towards Mouzon, 


without waiting for the 14th Brigade, who were fol- 
lowing in rear, but they suddenly found themselves 
threatened by a cavalry charge. 

Marshal MacMahon had recognized the fact that the 
best thing he could do was to effect as orderly a retreat 
as possible from the left bank of the Meuse ; the rein- 
forcements sent across had akeady been recalled. 
The 5th Cuirassier Regiment alone remained. When a 
little to the north of the Faubourg de Mouzon, they 
came within range of the shot of the advancing Prus- 
sians, and fearlessly faced the enemy. 

The 10th company of the 27th Regiment received 
the first onslaught. The men, without rushing for- 
ward, waited for the signal of their leader, Captain 
Helmuth, and when the enemy was within short range, 
fired a volley. Eleven officers and 100 men fell, includ- 
ing their brave commander, who was killed fifteen yards 
in front of his men. The survivors rushed back to the 
Meuse, and, as all the pontoon bridges had been re- 
moved, they tried to gain the opposite side by swim- 

The French were still in front of Mouzon in consid- 
erable numbers, and the batteries of the Fourth Corps 
now arrived one by one, and opened a heavy fire on 
them. Two Bavarian batteries took "^ the bridge at 
Villers, lower down the river, and stopped the way. 
Then the suburb was taken, after a fierce encounter in 
and about the houses, and here too the bridge was 
occupied. The enemy, deprived of every means of 
retreat, received the 8th Division, emerging from the 
valley of the Yoncq, with a hot fire, but were gradually 
driven back to the river. The French sections in front 
of the Bois de Grivodeau, too, were hopelessly commit- 
ted, and when the 7th Division and Twelfth Corps 
charged upon them, were dispersed, in spite of an 


obstinate resistance. When darkness set in the French 
gave up the fight on this side of the Meuse. Many of 
the stragglers were taken prisoners, others hid them- 
selves in the copses and farm-houses, or tried to escape 
by swimming the river. 

In this battle, as in the preceding ones, the loss of 
the assailants far exceeded that of the defenders. The 
Army of the Meuse lost 3500 men, the Fourth Corps 
being the principal sufferer. The French estimated 
their loss at 1800 killed; but 3000 prisoners, mostly 
wounded, fell into the hands of the Germans, with 51 
guns, 33 ammunition and other wagons, and a mili- 
tary chest, containing 150,000 francs. And, what was 
worse, this battle had forced them on to most unfavor- 
able ground. 

While the Fourth Corps had fought the battle of the 
day almost single-handed, the Saxon cavalry had made 
good progress on the right bank of the Meuse, and 
reconnoitred towards Mouzon and Carignan. The 
Guards had reached Beaumont, and General von der 
Tann, with the First Bavarian Corps, was at Roncouft, 
marching by way of La Besace, with some slight skir- 
mishing on the way. The Second Corps concentrated 
at Sommauthe, the Fifth at Stonne, the Eleventh at 
La Besace. Thus seven corps now stood in close com- 
munication between the Meuse and the Bar. 

The King rode back to Buzancy after the battle, as 
all villages in the vicinity had been turned into hos- 
pitals. Here, as previously at Clermont, was felt the 
great inconvenience of inadequate lodging for hundreds 
of iUustrious personages and their suites, when, for 
once in a way, and for military reasons, head-quarters 
were established in a small village, instead of in a large 

Quarters for those officers whose duty it was to 


prepare the necessary orders for the morrow, were 
only found late at night, and with considerable diffi- 

The orders, worked out during the night, were that 
two corps of the Army of the Meuse should cross over 
to the right bank on the 31st, to prevent the further 
progress of the French to Metz via Montmedy, should 
such a movement be undertaken. Two corps of the 
besieging army were posted at Etain and Briey. The 
Third Army was to continue northwards. 

As circumstances now stood, it already seemed pos- 
sible that the Army of Chalons might be compelled to 
retire to neutral territory, and the Belgian Govern- 
ment was therefore asked, through diplomatic chan- 
nels, to look to their disarmament should this come to 
pass. The German troops had orders to at once cross 
the Belgian frontier should the enemy refuse to disarm. 

While the Fifth French Corps were still fighting at 
Beaumont, and before the rest of the army had crossed 
the Meuse, General MacMahon had given orders that it 
was to concentrate on Sedan. 

He did not intend to offer battle there, but it was 
indispensable to give his troops a short rest, and pro- 
vide them with food and ammunition. Later on he 
meant to retreat via Mezieres, whither General Vinoy 
was just then proceeding with the newly-formed 
Thirteenth Corps. The First Corps, which had arrived 
at Carignan early in the afternoon, detached two of its 
divisions to Douzy in the evening to check any further 
advance of the Germans. 

Though pursuit immediately after the battle was 
prevented by the intervening river, the retreat of the 
French soon assumed the character of a rout. The 
troops were worn out with their efforts by day and 
night, in continuous rain, and with but scanty sup- 


plies of food. The marching to and fro, to no visible 
purpose, had undermined their confidence in their lead- 
ers, and a series of defeats had shaken their self-reli- 

Thousands of fugitives, crying for bread, crowded 
round the wagons as they made their way to the little 
fortress which had so unexpectedly become the central 
goal of a vast army. 

The Emperor Napoleon arrived there from Carignan 
late in the evening ; the Seventh Corps reached Floing 
during the night of the 31st, but the Twelfth Corps 
did not arrive at Bazeilles until the following day. 
The Fifth Corps mustered at the eastern suburb of 
Sedan in a shocking condition, followed in the after- 
noon by the First, which drew up behind the Grivonne 
Valley after many rear-guard actions with the G-erman 
cavalry. It was impossible to proceed to Mezieres 
that day ; but the Twelfth Corps had that same even- 
ing to face the Germans at Bazeilles, where the sound 
of firing announced their arrival. Even the order to 
destroy the bridges there and at Donchery was neg- 
lected, owing to the worn-out condition of the men. 

(August 31st.) The Gruards and the 12th Cavahy 
Division, which formed part of the Ai-my of the 
Meuse, had crossed that river at Pouilly, by a pontoon 
bridge constructed at Letanne, and then scoured the 
country between the Meuse and the Chiers. Following 
close upon the rear of the French and harassing them 
till they reached their new position, they succeeded in 
taking many of the stragglers. The Gruards crossed 
the Chiers at Carignan and halted at Sachy; the 
Twelfth fell back on the Meuse near Douzy, while its 
advanced guard pushed on past Francheval. The 
Fourth Corps remained at Mouzon. 

The 4th Cavahy Division of the Third Army took 


the direct route to Sedan, drove back the French out- 
posts from Wadelincourt and Frenois, and from 
thence took possession of the railroad under the fire 
of their artillery. The 6th Cavalry Division, on the 
left, reached Poix, on the way to Mezieres. 

When the First Bavarian Corps reached Remilly 
before noon, it came under the heavy fire from the 
opposite side of the river, and at once brought up its 
batteries in position on the near slope of the valley. 
A furious cannonade ensued, in which finally sixty 
guns engaged on the side of the Bavarians. The 
French now only tried to blow up the railway bridge 
south of Bazeilles, but the well-directed shots of the 
4th Jager battalion di-ove off the men, the Jagers threw 
the powder-barrels into the river, and at midday crossed 
the bridge. The battalion entered Bazeilles in the face 
of a shower of bullets and occupied the northern 
quarter of the straggling little town. 

Thus the Twelfth French Corps was forced to draw 
up between Balan and La Moncelle, where, after being 
reinforced by batteries from the First Corps, it faced, 
with an expenditure of considerable forces, the bold 
little troop of Germans. 

General von der Tann did not think it expedient, 
however, to engage, on that day and'^at that point, 
in serious conflict with an enemy in a concentrated 
position, and, seeing that there was no chance of being 
reinforced, he withdrew from Bazeilles at about half- 
past three, without being pursued. 

Meanwhile two pontoon bridges had been laid, with- 
out interference from the French, at Allicourt. These 
and the bridge south of Bazeilles were barricaded for 
the night, while eighty-four guns secured the passage. 

The Eleventh Corps marched towards Donchery, to 
the left of the Bavarians, followed by the Fifth. The 


advanced guard found the village unoccupied, and 
spread itself on the other side of the river. Tvi^o more 
bridges were thrown across below Sedan before three 
o'clock, whilst the railway bridge above, which was 
unprotected, was destroyed. 

The Wiirtemberg and the 6th Cavalry Division on 
the extreme left, came in contact with the Thirteenth 
French Corps, which had just arrived at Mezieres. 

The King removed his head-quarters to Vendresse. 

In spite of long and sometimes forced marches in 
bad weather, with little by way of supplies beyond 
what could be requisitioned, the Army of the Meuse 
on the east, and the Third Army on the south, were 
now close in front of the combined forces of the French. 

Marshal MacMahon must have known that the only 
chance of safety for his army, or even part of it, was 
to continue immediately the retrograde movement on 
that day, September 1st. Of course the Crown Prince 
of Prussia, who held the key to every passage over the 
Meuse, would have fallen on the flank of the retiring 
army, and would have pursued it to the frontier, a 
distance of little more than a mile. That the attempt 
was not risked is probably owing to the state of the 
worn-out troops. They were as yet incapable of a 
retreat in close order; they could only fight where 
they stood. 

The Grermans, on their side, still believed that the 
enemy would make for Mezieres. The Army of the 
Meuse was instructed to attack them in their position 
and detain them there ; the Third Army to press ahead 
on the right side of the river, leaving only one corps 
on the left bank. 

The rear of the French was protected by the fortress 
of Sedan. The Meuse and the valleys of the Givonne 
and the Floing offered formidable obstructions, but 


this line of defence must be obstinately held. The 
Calvary of Illy was one of their most important points, 
strengthened as it was by the Bois de la Garenne in its 
rear, whence a ridge extends to Bazeilles and offers 
protection in its numerous dips and shoulders. The 
road ran past Illy, should it become necessary to enter 
neutral territory. Bazeilles, on the other hand, which, 
as regards situation, formed a strong point of appui 
for the line facing the Grivonne, stands on a promon- 
tory, which, after the loss of the bridges across the 
Meuse, was open to attack on two sides. 


(September 1st.) 

In order to co-operate with the Army of the Meuse 
and hem in the French in their position, General von 
der Tann sent his first brigade over the pontoon 
bridges towards Bazeilles by four o'clock in the morn- 
ing in a thick mist. The troops attacked the town, 
but found the streets barricaded, while they were fired 
on from every house. The company at the head 
pressed forward to the north gate, suffering great 
losses, but the others were driven out of the western 
part of BazeiUes, while engaged in street fighting, on 
the arrival of the 2nd Brigade of the French Twelfth 
Corps. However, they kept possession of the build- 
ings at the southern end of the town and from thence 
issued to repeated assaults. As fresh troops were 
constantly coming up on both sides, and the French 
even were reinforced by a brigade of the First and one 
of the Fifth Corps, the murderous combat lasted for 
many hours with wavering success ; the fight for the 
Villa Beurmann, situated near the end of the high 
street and commanding its whole length, was especially 


fierce. The citizens took active part iu the struggle, 
and they too had to be shot down. 

The strong array of guns drawn up on the left ridge 
of the valley of the Meuse could not be brought to bear 
on the crowded streets of Bazeilles, now blazing in 
several places, but when, at eight o'clock, the 8th 
Prussian Division had arrived at Eemilly, General von 
der Tann ordered his last brigade into action. The 
walled park of Monvillers was stormed and an entrance 
gained to Villa Beuraiann. The artillery crossed the 
bridges at about nine o'clock, and the 8th Division were 
required to give their aid in a struggle begun by the 
Bavarians at La Moncelle, to the south of Bazeilles. 

Prince George of Saxony had dispatched an ad- 
vanced guard of seven battalions from Douzy in that 
direction at five o'clock in the morning. They di'ove 
the French from La Moncelle, pressed ahead to Pla- 
tinerie and the bridge situated there, and, in spite of a 
hot and steady fire, took possession of the houses on 
the other side of the Givonne, which they immediately 
occupied for defensive purposes. Communication with 
the Bavarians was now established and the battery of 
the advanced guard drawn up on the eastern slope ; but 
the brave assailants could not be immediately rein- 
forced by infantry. 

Marshal MacMahon had been struck by a splinter 
from a shell at La Moncelle at 6 a.m. He nominated 
General Ducrot as his successor in command, passing 
over the claims of two senior leaders. When General 
Ducrot received the news at seven o'clock, he issued 
orders for concentrating the army at Illy, and for an 
immediate retreat upon Mezieres. Of his own corps 
he dispatched Lartigue's division to cover the passage 
at Daigny ; Lacretelle and Bassoigne were ordered to 
assume the offensive against the Bavarians and Saxons, 


SO as to gain time for the rest of the troops to retire. 
The divisions forming the second hne immediately 
began to move towards the north. 

The Minister of War had appointed General von 
Wimpffen, recently back from Algiers, to the com- 
mand of the Fifth Corps, vice General de Failly, and 
had also empowered him to assume the chief command 
in case the Marshal should be disabled. 

General von Wimpffen knew the army of the Crown 
Prince to be in the neighborhood of Donchery, he re- 
garded the retreat to Mezieres as an impossibility, and 
was bent on the diametrically opposite course of forc- 
ing his way to Carignan, not doubting that he could 
rout the Bavarians and Saxons, and so effect a junc- 
tion with Marshal Bazaine. When he heard of the 
orders just issued by General Ducrot, and, at the same 
time, observed that an assault upon the Germans in 
La Moncelle seemed to turn in his favor, he deter- 
mined, in an evil hour, to exercise his authority. 

General Ducrot submitted without any remon- 
strance ; he was perhaps not averse to being relieved 
of so heavy a responsibihty. The divisions of the 
second line who were about to start were ordered back ; 
and the weak advance of the Bavarians and Saxons 
were soon hard pressed by the first lihe, who at once 
attacked them. 

By seven in the morning one regiment of the Saxon 
advanced guard had marched to the taking of La 
Moncelle ; the other had been busy with the threatening 
advance of Lartigue's division on the right. Here the 
firing soon became very hot. The regiment had 
marched without knapsacks, and neglected previously 
to take out their cartridges. Thus they soon ran 
short of ammunition, and tl^e repeated and violent on- 
slaught of the Zouaves, directed principally against 


the unprotected right, had to be repulsed with the 

On the left a strong artillery .line had gradually 
been formed, and by half -past eight o'clock amounted 
to twelve batteries. But Lacretelle's division was now 
approaching on the Givonne lowlands, and dense 
swarms of tirailleurs forced the Grerman batteries to 
retire at about nine o'clock. The gunners withdrew 
to some distance, but then turned about and re-opened 
fire on the French, and after driving them back into 
the valley returned to their original position. 

The 4th Bavarian Brigade had meanwhile reached 
La Moncelle, and the 46th Saxon Brigade was coming 
up, so the small progress made by Bassoigne's division 
was checked. 

The right wing of the Saxon contingent, which had 
been hardly pressed, now received much-needed sup- 
port from the 24th Division, and they at once assumed 
the offensive. The French were driven back upon 
Daigny, and lost five guns in the struggle. Then join- 
ing the Bavarians, who were pushing on through the 
valley to the northward, after a sharp fight, Daigny, 
the bridge and farmstead of La Eapaille were taken. 

It was now about ten o'clock, and the Guards had 
arrived at the Upper Givonne. They had started be- 
fore it was light, marching in two columns, when the 
sound of heavj" firing reached them from Bazeilles and 
caused them to quicken their step. In order to render 
assistance by the shortest road, the left column would 
have to cross two deep ravines and the pathless wood 
of Chevallier, so they chose the longer route by ViUers- 
Cernay, which the head of the right column had passed 
in ample time to take part in the contest between the 
Saxons and Lartigue's division, and to capture two 
French guns. 


The divisions ordered back by General Ducrot had 
ah'eady resumed their position at the western slope, 
and the 14th Battery of the Guards now opened fire 
upon them from the east. 

At the same hour (ten o'clock) the Fourth Corps and 
the 7th Division had arrived at Lamecourt, and the 
8th at Remilly, both situated below BazeiUes ; the ad- 
vanced guard of the 8th stood at the Remilly railway 

The first attempt of the French to break through to 
Carignan eastwards had proved a failure, and their re- 
treat to Mezieres on the west had also been cut off, for 
the Fifth and Eleventh Corps of the Third Army, to- 
gether with the Wiirtemberg division, had received 
orders to move northward by that route. These 
troops had struck camp before daybreak, and at six 
o'clock had crossed the Meuse at Donchery, and by 
the three pontoon bridges further down the river. 
The advanced patrols found the road to Mezieres clear 
of the enemy, and the heavy shelling, heard from the 
direction of Bazeilles, made it appear probable that 
the French had accepted battle in their position at 
Sedan. The Crown Prince, therefore, ordered the two 
corps, that had arrived at Brigne, to march to the 
right on St. Menges ; the Wiirtembergers were to re- 
main to keep watch over Mezieres. General von 
Kirchbach then pointed out Fleigneux to his advanced 
guard as the next objective, to cut off the retreat of 
the French into Belgium, and maintain a connection 
with the right wing of the Army of the Meuse. 

The narrow roadway between the hills and the river 
leading to St. Albert, about 2000 paces distant, was 
neither held nor watched by the French. It was not 
till the advanced guard reached St. Menges that they 
encountered a French detachment, which soon with- 


drew. The Germans then deployed in the direction 
of Illy, two companies on the right taking possession 
of Floing, where they kept up a gallant defence for 
two hours without assistance against repeated attacks. 

The first Prussian batteries that arrived had to exert 
themselves to the utmost to hold out against the larger 
force of French artillery drawn up at Illy. At first 
they were only protected by cavalry and a few com- 
panies of infantry, and as this cavalry managed to 
issue from the defile of St. Albert, it found itself the 
misleading object of attack, for the Margueritte Cav- 
alry Division halted on the lUy plateau. General 
Galliffet, commander of the division, at nine o'clock 
formed his three regiments of Chasseurs d'Afrique and 
two squadrons of Lancers into three divisions, and 
gave the order to charge. Two companies of the 87th 
Eegiment were the first in the line ; they allowed the 
cavalry to approach within sixty paces, and then fired 
a volley which failed to stop them. The 1st Division 
rode on a little further, then wheeled outward to both 
flanks, and came upon the fire of the supports estab- 
lished in the copse. The Prussian batteries, too, sent 
a shower of shrapnel into their midst, when they finally 
retired to seek protection in the Bois de Garenne, while 
a trail of dead and wounded marked their way. 

About half an hour later, that is at ten o'clock, and 
at the same time when the assaults of the French in 
Bazeilles and at Daigny were being repulsed, fourteen 
batteries of the Eleventh Corps were erected on and 
beside the hill range south-east of St. Menges ; those of 
the Fifth Corps were soon added to this artillery park. 
Thus, with the powerful infantry columns advancing 
upon Fleigneux, the investing fine di'awn around 
Sedan was nearly completed. The Bavarian corps 
and the artillery reserves remaining on the left em- 


bankment of the Meuse, were considered strong enough 
to repel any attempt of the French to break through 
in that direction. Five corps were standing on the 
right bank, ready for concentric attack. 

The Bavarians and Saxons, reinforced by the ad- 
vanced guard of the Fourth Corps, issued from the 
burning town of Bazeilles and from Moncelle, and 
di-ove sections of the French Twelfth Corps, in spite 
of a stubborn resistance, from the east of Balan back 
to Fond de Givonne. 

Having thus taken possession of the spur of Illy, 
while awaiting a fresh attack of the French, the most 
necessary step now was to reform the troops, which 
were in much confusion. 

As soon as this was done the 5th Bavarian Brigade 
advanced on Balan. The troops found but a feeble 
resistance in the village itself ; but it was only after a 
hard fight that they were allowed to occupy the park 
of the Castle, situated at the extreme end. From 
thence, soon after midday, the foremost battaUon got 
close to the walls of the fortress, and exchanged shots 
with the garrison. The French were now trying to 
take up a position at Fond de Givonne, and a steady 
fire was opened on both sides. At ^ one o'clock the 
French had e\adently received reinforcements, and 
when, after the artillery and mitrailleuses had done 
some preliminary work, they assumed the offensive, 
the 5th Bavarian Brigade was driven back for some 
little distance, but assisted by the 6th, regained its old 
position after an hour's hard fighting. Meanwhile the 
Saxon corps had spread itself in the northern part of 
the valley towards Givonne. There the foremost com- 
panies of the Guards were already established, as also 
in Haybes. The Prussian artillery forced the French 
batteries to change their positions more than once, 


and several of them had ah'eady gone out of action. 
To gain an opening here, the French repeatedly tried 
to send ahead large bodies of tirailleurs, and ten guns 
were got into Givonne, after it had been occupied, but 
these were taken before they could unhmber. The 
Prussian shells also fell with some effect among the 
French troops massed in the Bois de la Garenne, 
though fired from a long range. 

After the Franctireurs de Paris had been diiven out 
of Chapelle, the cavalry of the Guard advanced through 
Givonne and up the valley, and at noon the hussars 
had succeeded in establishing a connection with the 
left wing of the Third Army. 

The 47th Brigade of that body had left Fleigneux to 
ascend the upper valley of the Givonne, and the retreat 
of the French from Illy in a southern direction had 
ah'eady begun. The 87th Regiment seized eight guns 
that were being worked, and captured thirty baggage 
wagons with their teams and hundi'eds of cavalry 
horses wandering riderless. The cavahy of the ad- 
vanced guard of the Fifth Corps captured General 
Brahaut and his staff, besides a great number of in- 
fantry and 150 pack horses, together with forty am- 
munition and transport wagons. 

At Floing there was also an attempt on the part of 
the French to break through ; but the originally very 
insufficient infantry posts at that point had gradually 
been strengthened, and the French were di'iven from 
the locality as quickly as they had entered. And now 
the fire from the twenty-six batteries of the Army 
of the Meuse was joined by that of the Guards' bat- 
teries, which took up their position at the eastern 
slope of the Givonne valley. The effect was over- 
whelming. The French batteries were destroyed and 
many ammunition wagons exploded. 


General von Wimpffen at first thought the advance 
of the Germans from the north a mere feint, but 
recognized his mistake when he himself proceeded to 
the spot towards noon. He therefore ordered the two 
divisions in the second line, which was behind the 
Givonne front of the First Corps, to return to the 
height above Illy and support General Douay, 

On rejoining the Twelfth Corps he found it in fuU 
retreat on Sedan, and urgently requested General 
Douay to dispatch assistance in the direction of 
Bazeilles. Maussion's brigade proceeded thither at 
once, followed by Dumont's, as their position in the 
front had been taken by Conseil Dumesnil's division. 
All these marches and counter-marches were executed 
in the space south of the Bois de Garenne under fire 
of the German artillery on two sides. The retreat of 
the cavalry heightened the confusion, and several 
battalions returned to the doubtful protection of the 
forest. General Douay, it is true, when reinforced by 
sections of the Fifth Corps, retook the Calvaire, but 
was forced to abandon it by two o'clock ; the forest, 
at the back of the Calvaire, was then shelled by sixty 
guns of the Guards. 

Liebert's division alone had up to now maintained 
its very strong position on the hills north of Casal. 
The assembling in sufficient strength of the German 
Fifth and Eleventh Corps at Floing, could only be 
effected very gradually. At one o'clock, however, part 
of them began to scale the hill immediately before 
them, while others went round to the south towards 
Gaulier and Casal, and more marched down from 
Fleigneux. These troops became so intermixed that 
no detailed orders could be given ; a fierce contest was 
carried on for a long time with varying fortunes. The 
French division, attacked on both flanks, and also 


shelled, at last gave way, and the reserves of the 
Seventh Corps having ah-eady been called off to other 
parts of the battle-field, the French cavalry once more 
devoted themselves to the rescue. 

General Margueritte, with five regiments of light 
horse, and two of lancers, charged out of the Bois de 
Garennes. He fell among the first, severely wounded, 
and General Galliffet took his place. The charge was 
over very treacherous ground, and even before they 
could attack, the ranks were broken by the heavy 
flanking fire of the Prussian batteries. Still, with 
thinned numbers but unflagging determination, the 
squadrons charged on the 43rd Infantry Brigade and 
its reinforcements hurrying along from Fleigneux. 
Part of the German infantry on the hill-side were 
lying under cover, others were fully exposed in groups 
of more or less strength. Their foremost lines were 
broken through at several points, and a detachment of 
these brave troops forced their way past eight guns, 
through a hot fire, but the reserves beyond checked 
their further progress. A troop of cuirassiers, issuing 
from Gaulier, fell on the German rear, but encounter- 
ing the Prussian hussars in the Meuse Valley galloped 
off northward. Other detachments forced their way 
through the infantry as far as the narrow way by St. 
Albert, where the battalions holding it gave them a 
warm reception; others again enter Floing only to 
succumb to the 5th Jagers, who fell on them front and 
rear. These attacks were repeated by the French 
again and again, and the mm^derous turmoil lasted for 
half an hour with steadily diminishing success for the 
French. The volleys of the infantry fired at short 
range strewed the whole field with dead and wounded. 
Many fell into the quarries or over the steep preci- 
pices, a few may have escaped by swimming the 


Meuse ; and scarcely more than half of these brave 
troops were left to return to the protection of the for- 

But this magnificent sacrifice of the splendid French 
cavalry could not change the fate of the day. The 
Prussian infantry had lost but few in cut-and-thrust 
encounters, and at once resumed the attack against 
Liebert's division. But in this onslaught they sus- 
tained heavy losses ; for instance, the three battalions 
of the 6th Regiment had to be commanded by lieuten- 
ants. Casal was stormed, and the French, after a 
spirited resistance, withdrew at about three o'clock to 
their last refuge, the Bois de Garennes. 

When, between one and two o'clock, the fighting 
round Bazeilles at first took a favorable turn for his 
army, Greneral von Wimpffen returned to his original 
plan of overthrowing the Bavarians, exhausted by a 
long struggle, and making his way to Carignan with 
the First, Fifth, and Twelfth Corps ; while the Seventh 
Corps was to cover their rear. But the orders issued 
to that effect never reached the generals in command, 
or arrived so late that circumstances forbade their 
being carried out. 

In consequence of his previous orders, Bassoigne's 
division with those of Coze and Grandchamp had 
remained idle. Now, at about three in the afternoon, 
the two last named advanced from Fond-de-Givonne, 
over the eastern ridge, and the 23rd Saxon Division, 
which was marching in the valley on the left bank of 
the Givonne, found itself suddenly attacked by the 
compact French battalions and batteries, but with the 
aid of the left wing of the Guards and the artillery 
thundering from the eastern slope, they soon repulsed 
the French, and even followed them up back to Fond- 
de-Givonne. The energy of the French appears to 


have been exhausted, for they allowed themselves to 
be taken prisoners by hundreds. As soon as the hiUs 
on the west of the Givonne had been secured, the Grer- 
man artillery established itself there, and by three 
o'clock twenty-one batteries stood in line between Ba- 
zeilles and Haybes. 

Bois de Grarennes, where many corps of all arms had 
found refuge and were wandering about, still re- 
mained to be taken. After a short cannonade the 1st 
Divisit>n of Guards ascended the hills from Givonne, 
and were joined by the Saxon battalions, the left wing 
of the Third Army at the same time pressing forward 
from Illy. A wild turmoil ensued, some of the French 
offered violent resistance, others surrendered by thou- 
sands at a time, but not until five o'clock were the 
Germans masters of the fortress. 

Meanwhile long columns of French could be seen 
pouring down on Sedan from all the neighboring hills. 
Irregular bands of troops were massed in and around 
the walls of the fortress, and shell from the German 
batteries on both sides of the Meuse were constantly 
exploding in their midst. Columns of fire soon began 
to rise from the city, and the Bavarians, who had gone 
round to Torcy, were about to climb the palisades at 
the gate when, at about half -past four, flags of truce 
were hoisted on the towers. 

The Emperor Napoleon had refused to join with 
General von Wimpffen in his attempt to break through 
the German lines ; he had, on the contrary, desired him 
to parley with the enemy. On the order being re- 
newed, the French suddenly ceased firing. 

General Reille now made his appearance in the pres- 
ence of the King, who had watched the action since 
early in the day from the hill south of Frenois. He 
was the bearer of an autograph letter from the Em- 


peror, whose presence in Sedan had till now been un- 
known. He placed his sword in the hands of the 
King, but as this was only an act of personal submis- 
sion, the answer given to his letter demanded that an 
officer should be dispatched hither, fully empowered to 
treat with Greneral von Moltke as to the surrender of 
the French army. 

This sorrowful duty was imposed on Greneral von 
Wimpif en, who was in no way responsible for the des- 
perate straits into which the army had been brought. 

The negotiations were held at Donchery during the 
night between the 1st and 2nd of September. The 
Germans were forced to consider that they must not 
forego the advantage gained over so powerful an enemy 
as France. When it was remembered that the French 
had regarded the victory of German arms over other 
nationalities in the light of an insult, any act of un- 
timely generosity might lead them to forget their own 
defeat. The only course to pui'sue was to insist upon 
the disarmament and detention of the entire army, 
but the officers were to be free on parole. 

General von Wimpifen declared it impossible to ac- 
cept such hard conditions, the negotiations were 
broken off, and the French officers returned to Sedan 
at one o'clock. Before their departure they were given 
to understand that unless these terms were agreed to 
by nine o'clock next morning, the bombardment would 
be renewed. 

Thus the capitulation was signed by General von 
Wimpffen on the morning of the 2nd, further resist- 
ance being obviously impossible. 

Marshal MacMahon had been very fortunate in be- 
ing disabled so early in the day, or he would have 
been inevitably compelled to sign the capitulation, and 
though he had only carried out the orders forced upon 


him by the Paris authorities, he could hardly have 
sat in judgment, as he afterwards did, on the comrade 
he had failed to relieve. 

It is difficult to understand why the Germans want 
to celebrate the 2nd of September when nothing re- 
markable happened but what was the inevitable result 
of the previous day's work ; the day when the army 
really crowned itself with glory was the 1st of Sep- 

This splendid victory had cost the Germans 460 
officers and 8500 men. The French losses were far 
greater; 17,000 were killed, the work principally of 
the strong force of German artillery. Twenty-one 
thousand Frenchmen were taken prisoners in the 
course of the action, 83,000 surrendered ; 104,000 in aU. 

These, for the present, were assembled on the Pen- 
insula of Iges, formed by the Meuse. As they were 
absolutely destitute of supplies, the Commandant of 
Mezieres allowed them the use of the railway as far 
as Donchery. 

Two corps d'armee were to effect and escort the 
transport of the prisoners, who were taken off 2000 at 
a time by two roads, one to Etain, and the other by 
Clermont to Pont-a-Mousson, where they were taken 
in charge by the army investing Metz, and forwarded 
to various places in Germany. 

Three thousand men had been disarmed on Belgian 

The trophies, taken at Sedan, consisted of three 
standards, 419 field-pieces, and 139 guns, 66,000 stands 
of arms, over 1000 baggage and other wagons, and 
6000 horses fit for service. 

With the surrender of this army, Imperialism in 
France was extinct. 




While one half of the German army was thus en- 
gaged in victorious progress, the other half remained 
a fixture before Metz. 

The foremost hue of outposts of the besieging army 
was over six miles long. Thus an attempt of the col- 
lected forces of the enemy to break through would 
have met with but slight opposition at the outset. It 
was all the more expedient to fortify the isolated G-er- 
man positions. These works, the clearing of the bat- 
tle-fields in the neighborhood, the close watch kept 
over every movement of the enemy, the construction 
of a telegraph line connecting the various staff quar- 
ters, and the erecting of hutments, kept the troops 
and their leaders amply occupied. Besides the care 
of the wounded, attention had to be paid to the sick, 
whose number was daily increased oy the rough 
weather and insufficient shelter. The provisioning of 
the troops was, however, made easier by their station- 
ary attitude, and the troops were now amply supplied 
by their friends at home. 

The first days of the siege went by without any at- 
tempts to break out on the part of the French. They 
too were busy reorganizing, collecting ammunition and 

On the 20th of August, Marshal Bazaine wrote to 
Chalons : " I wiU give due notice of my march if I am 


able to attempt it." On the 23rd he reported to the 
Emperor : " If the news of the extensive reductions in 
the besieging army are corroborated, I shall begin the 
march by way of the fortresses on the north in order 
to risk nothing." 


(August 26th.) 

On the 26th of August, when the army of Chalons 
was still fifteen miles distant from the canal of the 
Ardennes, and their advance on Metz was as yet un- 
known. Marshal Bazaine collected his main forces on 
the right bank of the Moselle. 

This movement had not escaped the notice of the 
outposts, and the field telegraph at once communicated 
the information to head-quarters. 

To support the 3rd Reserve Division at Malroy, ten 
battalions of the Tenth Corps crossed the Meuse to 
Argancy, on the right bank. The 25th Division held 
itself in readiness at the bridge of Hauconcourt, and 
the First Corps closed up towards Servigny. In the 
event of the escape of the French towards the north, 
the Third, Fourth, and parts of the Ninth Corps were 
to arrest their progi-ess at Diedenhofen. 

The crossing of the river by pontoon bridges from 
the island of Chambiere seriously delayed the French ; 
their Second, Third, and Fourth Corps had, however, 
formed in close order between Mey and Grimont, by 
about noon. Their advanced guard succeeded in 
throwing back the German outposts to the south-east 
of Metz at several points, but instead of entering upon 
a general attack. Marshal Bazaine called all the com- 
mandants of the corps to a conference at Grimont. 
The Commandant of Metz then explained that the 


heavy ammunition at their disposal would suffice for 
one battle only, that when it was exhausted they would 
be imprisoned between the German armies without 
the means of defence ; the fortress, he continued, was 
not defensible in its present state, and could not stand 
a siege if the army were to be withdi-awn. All this 
might have been — nay, must have been, known to the 
Commandant before he entered upon the movement. 
It was especially impressed upon the generals, " That 
the best service they could render to their country 
was to preserve the army, which would be of the 
greatest importance if negotiations for peace should 
be entered into." The generals present all spoke 
against the continuation of the march ; and the Com- 
mander-in-chief, who had refrained from expressing 
any opinion in the matter, gave the order to retire at 
four o'clock. 

The whole affair of the 26th of August can only be 
regarded in the light of a parade manoeuvre. Bazaine 
reported to the Minister of War that the scarcity of 
artillery ammunition made it " impossible " to break 
through the German lines, unless the enemy were 
forced to retreat by attacks in the rear, from outside. 
Information as to the " voice of the people " in Paris 
was urgently requested. "" 

There is no doubt that Bazaine was influenced, not 
only by military, but by political considerations ; still 
the question remains, Could he have acted differently 
in the prevailing confusion! From the correspond- 
ence referred to and his behavior in the battles before 
Metz, he was evidently strongly opposed to quitting 
the fortress. Under shelter of its walls he could main- 
tain a considerable army in good order till the right 
moment. At the head of the only unimpaired army 
in France he might find himself in a position of greater 


power than any other man in the country. This army 
must, of course, first be freed from the bondage in 
which it was now held. Even if it should succeed in 
breaking through the lines, it would be greatly weak- 
ened ; and it was not inconceivable that the Marshal, 
as the strongest man in power, might be able to offer 
a price which should induce the enemy to allow him 
to march out. For if at last peace were to be con- 
cluded, the Germans would no doubt ask: Who in 
France is the authority with whom we are to negotiate, 
now that the Empire is overthrown, and which is 
strong enough to give a guarantee that its pledges 
will be kept I That the Marshal, if his plans had been 
carried out, would have acted otherwise than in the 
interest of France is neither proved nor to be assumed. 

But ere long, a number of men combined in Paris, 
who, without consulting the nation, constituted them- 
selves the Government of the country, and took the 
direction of its affairs into their own hands. In op- 
position to this party, Marshal Bazaine, supported by 
his army, could come forward as a rival or a foe ; nay, 
and this was his crime in the eyes of the Paris Gov- 
ernment, he might restore the authority of the Emperor 
to whom he had sworn allegiance. Whether he could 
thus have spared his country even longer misery and 
greater suffering need not be discussed. But that he 
was subsequently accused of betraying his country 
arose, no doubt, from the national vanity of the 
French, which demanded a " Traitor " to account for 

Soon after this demonstration — for it was nothing 
more — of the besieged army, the besieging army was, 
in fact, reduced, for the Second and Third Corps were 
sent to Brisy and Conflans, by orders from head-quar- 
ters. To be sure, from that point they could attack 


either of the French Marshals, as might prove requisite ; 
and the Thirteenth Corps, formed of the 17th Division, 
hitherto retained to defend the coast, and of the Land- 
wehr, was ah'eady within a few days' march of Metz. 

Meanwhile Marshal Bazaine seems to have recog- 
nized the fallacy of his expectations of the release of 
his army by negotiations with the enemy; he now 
decided to make his way out, weapon in hand. The 
troops were supplied with three days' rations, and the 
commissariat with arms from the magazines of the 
fortress. That the attempt should again be made on 
the right bank of the Moselle was only to be expected ; 
the main forces of the enemy being intrenched on the 
left. It would have been very difficult to traverse the 
mountainous region, cut up by deep passes, and they 
were sure to encounter the army of the Crown Prince 
on the march to Paris. East of Metz, on the other 
hand, there was ample space for the full development 
of his army. Thence to the south there was open 
country, offering no cover to the enemy, whose lines 
were weakest on that side. The march to the north 
and along the Belgian frontier offered more danger and 
greater obstacles, and yet the Marshal had selected 
this very road. The Army of Chalons was also march- 
ing in that direction ; their approach Was reported, and 
on the 31st of August, when Marshal MacMahon's 
forces reached Stenay under such disastrous circum- 
stances, Bazaine's army issued from Metz. 


(August 31st.) 

Of the forces then assembled on the right bank of 
the Meuse, the Third Corps was to cover the right 
flank of the others while they were advancing; one 


division was ordered to surprise the enemy in the 
south-east, the other three divisions were to march on 
Noisseville. Three pontoon-bridges were constructed 
for the rest of the army, and exits prepared towards 
the heights of St. Julien. The Fourth and Sixth 
Corps were to cross at six o'clock and take up a posi- 
tion to the right of the Third, from the town of Mey, 
past Grimont to the Moselle ; the Second Corps and 
the Guards were to follow and form a second line in 
their rear. The artillery reserves and the cavalry 
were expected to reach the other side of the Moselle 
by ten o'clock ; the baggage trains were collected on 
the Isle of Chambiere. Thus there should have been, 
by twelve o'clock, five corps ready to attack the Ger- 
mans along a mile and a half, from Retonfay to 
Argancy, where only two German divisions held the 

As early as seven o'clock in the morning Montaudon's 
division issued from Fort Queuleu, and proceeding 
eastward, drove the German outposts back on Aubigny. 
But this sham attack did not deceive the Germans. 
The stir in the French camp had been observed quite 
early, and when the mist cleared off and large bodies 
of French troops were seen moving in front of Fort 
St. Julien, an attempt to break through to the north 
was confidently expected, and measures were immedi- 
ately taken to prevent it. 

The 28th Brigade of the Seventh Corps was dis- 
patched to reinforce Courcelles ; thus the 3rd Brigade 
of the First Corps could be brought nearer to Servigny. 
The troops of the Tenth Corps, which could be spared 
from the line of defence on the left bank, were again 
set moving to return to the right, and the Ninth Corps 
made ready to begin the intended retreat. The Third 
Corps and the 1st Cavalry Division were recalled from 


Brisy and sent to the plateau of Privat ; the Second 
was to prepare to march at any moment. 

The attempt of the French on this occasion proved 
even less successful than on the 26th ; the routes of 
the Fourth and Sixth Corps met at the bridges, and 
they only reached their rendezvous at one o'clock, 
though it was but half a mile beyond ; they then re- 
nounced the idea of an immediate assault and set about 
cooking their dinners. A few skirmishes at Aubigny 
on the east and on the north towards Eupigny came 
to nothing. The Gruards did not arrive till three 
o'clock ; the artillery and cavalry were still absent. 

As everything had now quieted down, the Germans 
came to the conclusion that the attack had been in- 
tended for the following day. Not to waste their 
strength, a pai't of the reinforcements had already 
been sent back, when, at about four o'clock, the French 
guns suddenly opened a heavy fire. 

It appears that the Marshal had again assembled all 
the generals at Grimont, this time to inform them of 
his plan of attack. It was evident that the French 
could not advance towards the north before they had 
cut their way through by an attack on the eastern 
side, and covered their right flank ; |or even if they 
succeeded in breaking through the German lines be- 
tween Malroy and Charly, they could get no further 
so long as the Germans were at Servigny, and as their 
fire swept the plain by the Moselle, which, at that 
point, is no more than 5000 paces broad, the Marshal 
could not in any case reckon on getting through with 
his artillery reserves, which did not arrive on the field 
until six o'clock ; or, indeed, with the baggage trains 
he had left on the Isle of Chambiere. The cavalry 
corps was still defiling, and could not arrive until nine 
o'clock in the evening. 


The French commander's orders were based on these 

Marshal Le Boeuf received orders to advance with 
the Second and Third Corps on both sides of the valley 
of Ste. Barbe, and outflank the 1st Prussian Division 
at Servigny, from the south ; while the Fourth Corps 
attacked them in front. The Sixth Corps was to at- 
tack the Reserve Division at Charly-Malroy. Marshal 
Canrobert was to command these two corps, the Guards 
being kept as reserves. 

Thus Greneral von Manteuffel had first to oppose 
Marshals Le Boeuf and Canrobert with a small force 
against a very superior enemy. This might be done 
either at Ste, Barbe, a position that was difficult to 
outflank, in the line of Servigny — Poix — Failly, which, 
though more exposed, was favorable to the use of 
artillery. The latter was selected on the advice of 
General von Bergmann, in command of the artillery 
and the Landwehr Brigade brought up from Antilly, 
where its place was taken by the 25th Division. Ten 
batteries advanced to within 1000 paces of the villages 
occupied by the infantry. Their fire was so superior 
to that of the French that the enemy's batteries were 
soon silenced. The French attack from Rupigny, sup- 
ported on the flank by three batteries, was for a long 
time repelled, and as the Prussians had not yet been 
driven back on Ste. Barbe, the Sixth French "Corps 
deferred for the present any serious attack on the 
Reserve Division at Malroy-Charly ; Marshal Canrobert 
received orders to advance, for the time being, only 
against the village of Failly, the northern stronghold 
of the Servigny position. 

Tixier's division therefore set out at 7.30 in the 
evening from ViUers L'Orme, but met with a most 
obstinate resistance at FaiUy. The East-Prussians, 


though attacked on two sides and pelted with bullets, 
maintained their position, and for a time were engaged 
in a hand-to-hand encounter, till the Landwehr Brigade 
came to their assistance from Bremy. 

South of Servigny the French fared far better than 
in this angle between two bodies of the enemy ; their 
Second and Third Corps, at that point, had only the 
3rd Brigade of the First Prussian Corps to deal with 
as it advanced from Retonfay. Montaudon's and 
Metman's divisions had pressed on as far as Nouilly, 
in the valley of the Vallieres; Clinchant's brigade 
stormed the brewery in the teeth of a heavy fire, and 
by seven o'clock had compelled the defence of Noisse- 
ville to retire. Montoy and Flanville were also taken 
possession of, and the advanced guard of the 4th 
Brigade thrown back on Coincy and Chateau Aubigny. 
The batteries of the 1st Division, after withstanding 
for a long time the fire of a strong force of tirailleurs 
from the southern valley, were forced, at about seven 
o'clock, to retire in echelon to the position held by the 
infantry at Poix-Servigny, keeping oif the pursuing 
enemy with grape-shot. 

But at Poix-Servigny they now found the Prussians 
had made a stand, although outflanked on their left. 
Potier's brigade ascended the northern slope of the 
Vallieres valley, but found it impossible to reach Ser- 
vigny. A moment later Cissey's brigade rushed up 
from the west, and seized the cemetery outside the 
village. The French Fourth Corps made a move 
against the centre of the Prussian position, but with- 
out success, for those battalions of the 2ud Brigade 
which had hitherto been kept in reserve met the attack. 
The attempt to break through between Poix and Ser- 
vigny was met by the last reserve battalions of the 
2nd Brigade with a counter attack, in which all the 


troops at hand at once joined. Amid beating of drums 
they fell on the French, forced them out of the cem- 
etery, and drove them over the slope. 

To reinforce the troops thus engaged, the 3rd Bri- 
gade had, at about half -past eight, marched on Noisse- 
ville, whence they drove out the small detachment 
they found in possession, but they subsequently 
yielded to superior numbers, and withdrew to St. 

The din of battle had now ceased on all sides, and 
the fight seemed to be ended. The infantry of the 1st 
Division found quarters in the villages, the artillery 
had bivouacked, when suddenly, at nine o'clock, a 
strong body of French were seen through the dark- 
ness marching on Servigny. This proved to be 
Aymard's division ; it advanced without firing a shot, 
and surprised the detachment which occupied the 
place, ejecting them after a fierce hand-to-hand fight. 
This attack remained unobserved for some time, even 
by the troops nearest at hand ; but they then rushed 
to arms, and, pouring in from all sides, drove the 
French back beyond the churchyard, which was now 
held by the Germans. 

It was now ten o'clock. The 1st Division had kept 
its ground against an enemy of superior strength ; but 
the French had found their way across the unoccupied 
ground between the 3rd and 4th Brigades, and threat- 
ened the German flank at Servigny from their position 
at Noisseville. 

(September 1st.) The 18th Division, by a night 
march, crossed from the left to the right bank of the 
Moselle at four o'clock in the morning and reinforced 
the two wings in the line of Malroy, Charly, and Bois 
de Failly, sending a brigade to each. The 25th Di- 
vision could now retire from Antilly to Ste. Barbe, 


where, with the 6th Landwehr Brigade, it formed the 
reserve of the Poix-Servigny position. 

On the morning of the 1st of September a thick 
mist still shi'ouded the plain, where all troops stood 
ready for action. 

Marshal Bazaine again pointed out to his generals 
that, first of all, Ste. Barbe was to be taken, that place 
being the key to the northern route they intended 
to pursue ; and he added, " failing this, we must 
stand by our own position." He evidently meant, 
the position under shelter of the cannons of Metz, 
and this shows great lack of confidence in his own 

The 3rd Brigade had deployed on the Saarlouis 
route as early as five o'clock, to forestall the fui-ther 
progress of the French on the left flank of the 1st 
Division. Twenty guns swept the plain in the direc- 
tion of Montoy, and when Noisseville had been for 
some time under the fii-e of the artillery of the 3rd 
(German) Brigade, at seven o'clock the 43rd Regiment 
stormed the village. A violent fight ensued in and 
about the houses ; two French brigades engaged in the 
combat, and after a long struggle the regiment was 
again repelled. The battalions of 4:he 3rd Brigade 
arrived just as the fight was over, but the attack was 
not renewed. 

When the plan of Marshal Bazaine's attempt was 
made evident, the 28th Brigade started from Coui'celles 
at six in the morning to reinforce the First Corps ; its 
two batteries silenced those of the French at Montoy 
and then fired on Flanville. The enemy soon began 
to abandon the burning village, into which, at nine 
o'clock, the Ehinelanders marched from the south and 
the East-Prussians from the north. Marshal Le Boeuf 
ordered Bastoul's division to make another charge on 


Montoy, but the deadly fire of the Prussian artillery 
compelled them to turn back. 

The 3rd Brigade had meanwhile taken up a position 
parallel with Retonfay, where it was joined by the 
28th. The 3rd Cavalry Division was reinforced by the 
Hessian Horse Brigade, and these troops, with the artil 
lery, which was made up to 114 guns, formed a ram- 
part against any further progress of the Second and 
Third French Corps. 

Everything was now quiet on the right wing 
of the French army; but the Fourth Corps had 
been enjoined to await their advance before renew- 
ing the attack on the artillery defences and village 
intrenchments of the French line from Servigny to 
Poix, as its strength had been tested the day before. 
At eleven o'clock, after Noisseville had been severely 
bombarded, the 3rd Prussian Brigade, supported by 
the Landwehr, advanced from the south and com- 
pelled the French to withdraw from the bm'ning vil- 

Marshal Canrobert, commanding the northern attack, 
had drawn up his batteries at ChieuUes by half -past 
eight, and their fire, seconded by that of the artiUery 
of the fortress, drove the Grermans from Eupigny for 
a time ; but the village was soon retaken. 

Tixier's division made two fruitless attempts to 
seize Failly, when the 36th Brigade of the 18th Di- 
vision, which had just arrived, combining with the 
Reserve Division, assumed the offensive, and at ten 
o'clock di-ove the French back over the Chieulles 
stream. They made still another onslaught on Failly, 
but a sharp flanking fire made this too a failure. 

Marshal Le Boeuf, though he still had two divisions 
at his disposal, retreated before the advance of the 3rd 
Brigade on his right flank ; and when Marshal Bazaine 


heard of this he ordered a cessation of hostilities at all 
other points at about midday. 

The 137,000 French of the Army of the Rhine, who 
had issued from Metz on August 31st, had been re- 
pulsed by 36,000 Prussians. For the first time in this 
war the attack had been opened by the French, while 
defence feU to the lot of the Glermans. That the Ger- 
mans lost 3400 men against 3000 on the French side, 
must be attributed to the superior quality of the 
Chassepot rifle. But the effects of the Prussian artil- 
lery proved decisive, and enabled Manteuffel to main- 
tain an unshaken resistance. 

The Seventh Corps remained on the right of the 
Meuse, where the invading line was now strengthened 
by the arrival of the Thirteenth Corps with the Grand 
Duke of Mecklenburg. 

The Second and Third Corps were again drawn up 
on the left bank of the river. On the same day and at 
the same hour, when the destruction of one French 
army was completed at Sedan, the other returned to 
almost hopeless interment in Metz. Thus the issue of 
the war had already been decided after only two 
months' duration; though the war itself was far 
from ended. 


When, in the night of the 4th of September, the 
news of the defeat at Sedan and the Emperor's sur- 
render became known in Paris, the Legislative Body 
met for a series of sittings in rapid succession to select 
an Adminstrative Committee. Eiotous mobs cut these 
deliberations short by forcing their way into the Cham- 
ber and proclaiming the Eepublic here and at the 
Hotel de Ville, amidst the acclamations of the people. 
Though the troops were under arms in their bar- 


racks, the Government till now in power offered no 
resistance; the Empress left Paris; General Trochu 
and several members of the Minority in the Chamber 
combined to form a Government, which they styled 
"The Government of National Defence and War." 
"War to the bitter end" was their motto, and the 
entire nation was called to arms. Not an inch of ter- 
ritory, not a stone of the fortresses was to be yielded 
up to the enemy. 

A Government, devoid of legitimate foundation, 
must achieve some manifest success, and could not 
afford to allow the war to end in peace. 

Notwithstanding all previous reverses, France was 
too rich in resources to find herself defenceless yet. 
General Yinoy was still in the field. The dispersed 
members of all the corps, the marine troops, and the 
Gendarmerie could rally around him. There was, too, 
the " Territorial Militia," numbering 468,000 men, an 
institution due to Marshal Niel, whose far-seeing work 
of reorganization had been cut short only too soon. 
Then the Garde Nationale could be called out, as well 
as 100,000 newly levied recruits. France was thus 
able to send a million men to the front, without reck- 
oning Franctireurs and volunteer corps. 

Four hundred thousand Chassepots and 2000 guns 
lying in store would arm these troops, and the work- 
shops of England, as a neutral power, were ready to 
complete their outfit as a matter of business. 

Such means of war, backed by the active patriotism 
of the nation, might offer a prolonged resistance if 
governed by a powerful will. That will was Gam- 

As Minister of War, by the French system of govern- 
ment, he was, at the same time. Commander-in-chief, 
and he certainly would not resign the command. For 


a victorious G-eneral at the bead of the army, under a 
Republic, would at once have become Dictator in his 

M. de Freycinet, also a civilian, served under G^am- 
betta as a sort of Chief of the Gleneral Staff, and the 
energetic, but dilettante, commandership exercised by 
these gentlemen cost France very dear. Grambetta's 
rare energy and unrelenting perseverance availed, 
indeed, to induce the entire population to take up 
arms, but not to du'ect these masses on a uniform 

Without giving them time to be drilled into fitness 
for the field, he sent them out with ruthless cruelty, 
insufficiently prepared to carry out ill-digested plans 
against an enemy on whose firm solidity all their 
courage and devotion must be wi'ecked. He prolonged 
the struggle with great sacrifice on both sides, without 
turning the balance in favor of France. 

But the German army had still great difficulties to 

The battles it had won had cost it dear ; the loss in 
officers especially was irremediable. Half the army 
was detained before Metz and Strasburg. The trans- 
port and guard of more than 200,000 p^soners required 
the services of a large part of the new levies in Ger- 
many. The frontier fortresses had not indeed hindered 
the invasion of the German army, but they had to be 
invested or kept under observation to secure commu- 
nications with the rear, the forwarding and victualling 
of troops, and every advance into the enemy's country 
demanded increased supplies of arms. After the battle 
of Sedan only 150,000 were available for further oper- 
ations in the field. There could be no doubt that they 
must be directed against Paris, as the seat of the new 
government and the centre of gi-avity, so to speak, of 


the whole country. On the very day of the capitula- 
tion of Sedan, arrangements were made for the advance. 
To spare the troops, the movement was to be ex- 
ecuted on the widest possible front, for of the French 
corps, only the Thirteenth could detain them. Still, 
Blanchard's division alone of that corps was still at 
Mezieres ; the other two had but just begun their 
march when they received orders to retui'n. 


Greneral Vinoy's first anxiety was — very rightly — to 
reach Paris with the least possible loss. This was not 
very easy to accomplish, for the Sixth Corps (Prus- 
sian), which had taken no part in the battle of Sedan, 
was at Attigny in such a jDOsition that, between that 
place and Laon, it could intercept any line of the 
French retreat by reaching the spot before, or as soon 
as the enemy. General von Tiimpling, with the 12th 
Division, had taken possession of Rethel by the even- 
ing of September 1st, thus closing the high road to 
Paris. Only extraordinary forced marches and a suc- 
cession of happy circumstances could save from de- 
struction Blanchard's division, which had already spent 
aU its ammunition in small conflicts. 

General Vinoy supplied the troops with several days* 
rations, enjoined a strict observance of order and dis- 
cipline, and during the night of September 2nd began 
his retreat to Rethel, where he expected to find Crea's 
division ; this, however, availing itself of the part of 
the railway which was stiU undestroyed, had already 
gone on to Soissons. 

It was still quite early when the French column 
came into collision with the 5th and presently with 
the 6th Prussian Cavalry Divisions, without being 
seriously attacked. It was not till about ten o'clock, 


and within a mile and a half of Rethel, that the French 
General learned that that place was in the hands of 
the Grermans, and decided on making a detour by 
Novion-Porcien. He sent his rear guard against the 
enemy's horse artillery, but seeing hardly anything 
but cavalry in front, they soon resumed the march. 
They reached Novion, where they bivouacked, at about 
four in the afternoon. 

Greneral von Hoffmann had taken up a position at 
Rethel, awaiting the French, of whose approach he had 
been warned. Having ridden out in person, he became 
aware of their deviation from the route, and at four in 
the afternoon marched on Ecly, where he arrived late 
in the evening. Part of his troops reconnoitred the 
country round Chateau Porcien. 

General Vinoy, on learning that this road too was 
closed, left his bivouacs at half -past one in the morn- 
ing, leaving the fires burning, and set out for a second 
night's march in pouring rain and total darkness. 

At first he took a northerly direction, to reach Laon 
at any rate by the cross-roads. Knee-deep in mud and 
often alarmed, but without coming into collision with 
the enemy, he arrived at Chateau Porcien at half- 
past seven in the morning, and halted sf or a couple of 
hours. The state of the roads compelled him now to 
proceed in a southerly direction, and when the head 
of his column reached Seraincourt, the sound of firing 
told him that the rear had been attacked by the Ger- 

The Prussian cavalry had, early in the day, dis- 
covered the French line of march, but when this 
important information reached him, General von Hoff- 
mann had left Ecly. He had already started to look 
for the enemy at Novion-Porcien, where he was nat- 
urally to be expected after his first night-march, but 


at half -past nine had found the place deserted. Thus, 
during the forenoon, the German and French division 
had crossed on the road at a distance of about a mile 
apart. The thick weather had prevented them seeing 
each other. General Vinoy got, this day, as far as 
Montcornet, in what condition may be imagined. The 
12th Division (German) had persevered in its westward 
march, but had only come up with the rear of the fast- 
retreating enemy, and took up quarters in Chaumont- 

This march of the enemy ought not indeed to have 
remained unobserved and unchecked under the eye of 
two cavalry divisions, but these were, it must be 
owned, called off at an unfortunate moment. 

It was, in fact, in consequence of a report that the 
French forces were assembled at Rheims, that the 
Commander-in-chief of the Third Army had ordered 
the immediate return of the Sixth Corps and the two 
divisions of cavalry. These at once relinquished the 
pursuit, and General von Tiimpling ordered his two 
infantry divisions to march at once on Rheims ; the 
11th, which was holding Rethel, set out forthwith. 
General von Hoffmann, on the contrary, followed up 
the French, on his own responsibility, as far as was 
possible without any cavalry to overtake them. It 
was not till the following day that the 12th reached 
the Suippe. 

(September 4th.) General Vinoy made his way 
northward again, beyond Marie, where he received the 
news of the Emperor's surrender and the outbreak of 
the revolution in Paris. It was now of the greatest 
importance that he should arrive there, and by the 
13th he had reached the capital with the two other 
divisions of his corps from Laon and Soissons. 




While all this was going on, the Germans, on the 
4th September, had begun their advance on Paris. 
The fii'st thing to be done was to re-form the mass of 
troops assembled in the cramped space by Sedan. The 
Third Army, of which the Eleventh and the First 
Bavarian Corps were still there, had to make two long 
marches to the front in order that the Army of the 
Meuse could occupy their old lines in its rear. 

The news of the great concentration of troops at 
Rheims was soon proved to be unfounded. So early 
as on the 4th, companies of Prussian horse had entered 
the excited and hostile city, the 11th Division arrived 
that afternoon, and on the following day the German 
King's head-quarters were established in the town 
which had seen so many French kings crowned. 

On the 10th of September the Third Army had 
reached a line from Dormans to Sezanne, and the 
Sixth Corps had pushed forward to Chateau Thierry. 
The Army of the Meuse, after faihng in an attack on 
Montmedy, occupied a line between Rheims and Laon. 
Cavalry sent far in advance protected^ this exception- 
ally wide marching front. They everywhere found 
the inhabitants in a very hostile frame of mind ; the 
franctireurs attacked with conspicuous daring, and 
could only be ejected from several villages by a dis- 
mounted force. The roads were in many places broken 
up and the bridges destroyed. 

At the approach of the 6th Cavalry Di\dsion, Laon 
capitulated. Some small detachments of troops of the 
line were taken prisoners, with twenty-five guns, 100 
stand of arms and stores were plundered, and 2000 
Gardes Mobiles dismissed to their homes on parole. 


Friend and foe were still collected in large numbers 
in the courtyard of the citadel when the powder maga- 
zine blew up, having probably been intentionally fired, 
and did great damage, both there and in the town. 
The Prussians had fifteen officers and ninety-nine men 
kiUed and wounded; among the wounded were the 
General of Division and his staff officer. The French 
lost 300 men ; the commandant of the fortress was 
mortally wounded. 

On the 16th the Army of the Meuse stood on the 
Ourcq, between Nanteuil and Lezy, the 5th Cavahy 
Division was at Dammartin, the 6th had advanced 
beyond Beaumont, sending patrols as far as St. Denis. 
The Third Army occupied the ground from Meaux to 
Comte Eobert. Strong pontoon bridges had been 
thrown over the Marne at Trilport instead of those 
which had been blown up, and by the 17th, the Fifth 
Corps had ah-eady reached the Upper Seine. 

To secure the pontoon works at Villeneuve-St.- 
Georges, the 17th Brigade was sent down the right 
bank of the Seine towards Paris, and at Mont Mesly 
was met by Crea's division, ordered out by General 
Vinoy to bring in or destroy a large store of supplies. 
The fight which ensued ended in the French being 
driven back under shelter of the guns of the fort at 

The Second Bavarian Corps also arrived on the Seine 
on this day and bridged it over at Corbeil. The 2nd 
Cavahy Division were observing Paris from Saday. 
The King removed his head-quarters from Chateau 
Thierry to Meaux. The complete investment of Paris 
was now imminent. 

The works completed by Louis Philippe effectually 
protected the city from being taken by storm. The 
armament consisted of 2627 guns, including 200 of 


the heaviest calibre of naval ordnance. Each had 500 
rounds of shot, and there were 3,000,000 kilogi'ammes 
of powder in the magazines. In numerical strength, 
besides the Thirteenth Corps arrived from Mezieres, a 
new corps, the Fourteenth, had been raised in Paris 
itself. These 50,000 troops of the hne, with 14,000 
highly efficient and trustworthy marines and sailors, 
and about 8000 gensd'armes, customs officers, and 
chasseurs, formed the kernel of the defence. There 
were besides 115,000 Gardes Mobiles which had been 
called into the capital at an earlier date. The National 
Guard was divided into 130 battalions which, how- 
ever, being defectively equipped and ill-disciplined, 
could only be employed in the defence of the inner 
circle of walls. The volunteers, though numerous, 
proved for the most part useless. 

On the whole, the besieged force may be reckoned 
at 300,000, twice as many as the besiegers as yet on 
the spot, who had only about 60,000 men available, 
with 5000 cavalry and 124 field batteries. There were 
five floating batteries on the Seine and nine section- 
built gun-boats, originally intended for the Rhine ; on 
the railway line a few guns were mounted on armor- 
plated cars. ^ 

Great difficulties attended the victualling of two mill- 
ion human beings for any length of time ; however, 
the French had succeeded in bringing 3000 oxen, 6000 
pigs, and 180,000 sheep into Paris, with considerable 
stores of other provisions, so that they were sure of 
holding out for six weeks at least. 

The commands issued from the head-quarters at 
Meaux were that the Army of the Meuse should invest 
the capital on the right bank of the Seine, and the 
Third Army on the left bank. As a general rule, the 
troops were to remain beyond the range of fire from 


the forts, but, short of that, were to keep as close as 
possible so as to reduce the line of blockade. The 
connection of the two armies was to be secured above 
Paris by several bridges across the river, and below 
the city, by the cavahy occupying Poissy. The Third 
Ai'my were to scour the country about Orleans. In 
case of any attempt to relieve the capital, it was to 
march up within a short distance and then, leaving 
the blockade to the weaker forces, to use all its strength 
to defeat the enemy. Without some relief from the 
outside, the mere investment of the city must reduce 
it to capitulate, though probably not for some weeks, 
or even months. The most obvious alternative was a 

At the time when Paris was fortified, it was incon- 
ceivable that the improvements in artillery would 
double or treble the range of fire. The outworks, 
especially to the south, were at so short a distance 
from the main work that the latter could easily be 
reached by the fire of heavy batteries. 

The Grermans have been blamed for not having 
recourse at an earlier date to this form of attack ; but 
this shows a deficient appreciation of the difficulties in 
the way. It may safely be asserted that an attack on 
a large fortified place in the heart of the enemy's 
country must always be impossible so long as the in- 
vader is not master of the railways or waterways, to 
bring in endless supplies of the necessary materiel. Its 
mere conveyance by ordinary highways, even for a 
short distance, is a gigantic undertaking. At this 
period the Grerman army had the control of only one 
railway on French soil, and this was fully occupied in 
the transport of supplies for the forces in the field ; 
food, reinforcements, and arms to bring in; the 
wounded, sick, and prisoners to carry back. Even 


this ended at Toul ; and the attempt to construct a 
ceinture line outside that fortress was rendered impos- 
sible by the nature of the ground. A scarcely inferior 
obstacle was the complete destruction of the Nanteuil 
tunnel, which would probably take many weeks to 

Even then, for the further transport beyond Nan- 
teuil of 300 heavy guns, with 500 rounds of shot, 4500 
large wagons would be needed, such* as were not in 
use in the country to be traversed, and 10,000 horses. 
Thus a bombardment was, in the first instance, not to 
be thought of, and, in any case, the object of it would 
not be to destroy Paris, but to exert a final pressm^e on 
the inhabitants; and this would be more effectual 
when a long blockade had shaken the resolution of the 
besieged than it was likely to be at the beginning. 

(September 8th.) In obedience to the supreme com- 
mand, the Generals of Division began the march on 
the enemy's capital. By the 18th the Army of the 
Meuse, by a deviation to the left, had brought the 
Twelfth Corps as far as Claye, the Guards to Mitry, 
and the Fourth Corps to Dammartin, one march from 

AU the villages beyond St. Denis were occupied by 
the French. It seemed as though the^lockade on the 
north side would be opposed, and the Crown Prince of 
Saxony took measures to follow up and support the 
Fourth Corps, which led the way, on the following day. 
The 5th and 6th Cavalry Divisions, hastening on to 
Pontoise, were reinforced by two companies of Jagers 
and a pontoon train, and, after constructing a bridge, 
they crossed the Oise. 

The Fifth Corps of the Third Army passed over the 
Seine at Villeneuve-St.-Georges and advanced to Palai- 
seau and the Upper Bievre. The advanced guard 


came into collision with the French cavalry brigade 
under Bernis. The (German) 47th Regiment at once 
proceeded to attack, and stormed the waUed farm- 
steads of Dame-Rose and Trivaux. But on the south- 
ern skirt of the wood of Meudon the whole of the 
Fourteenth Corps was drawn up ; on its left stood a 
division of the Thirteenth Corps. The regiment retired 
on Petit-Bicetre without being pursued, and there took 
up a defensive position. 

The 2nd Bavarian Corps marched from Corbeil by 
Longjumeau to a line parallel with the Fifth, and on 
the right the Sixth occupied both banks of the Seine. 
These corps, too, had several brushes with the French. 

The Wurtemberg Division at Lagny and Gournay 
was to cross the Marne forthwith, and so establish 
communication between the two armies. 


(September 19th.) 

On the 19th of September the Fourth Corps, advanc- 
ing to St. Brice, met with no opposition ; they drove 
out the enemy's troops from the neighboring villages 
under cover of the heavy guns of St. Denis, and ad- 
vanced on the Lower Seine. The Guards followed 
them as far as Dugny, and took possession of the 
Moree, which was dammed up at its confluence with 
the Marne, and afforded good protection for the invest- 
ing lines along a considerable distance. Fui'ther to 
the left the Twelfth Corps took up a position on the 
Marne, and on the left bank of that stream the Wiir- 
temberg Division advanced to Champigny. 

On this day the Fifth Corps of the Third Army 
advanced to Versailles in two columns. The 47th 
Regiment was again told off to cover the march on 


the French front. The enemy evidently were anxious 
to remain masters of the important heights in front of 
the fortifications of Paris, and it was still early in the 
morning when two divisions of the Fourteenth Corps 
(French) marched out of the neighboring wood of 
Meudon on Petit-Bicetre and Villacoublay. Sup- 
ported by a strong force of artillery, which set the 
farm -buildings of Petit-Bicetre on fire, they drove back 
the German posts ; but at Villacoublay the Fifth pres- 
ently came up to Abbaye aux Bois to support the 
Second Bavarian Corps. 

The left flank brigade of the Bavarians had crossed 
the columns marching on Versailles in the valley of 
the Bievi'e ; but the sound of fighting on the field of 
battle induced General von Dietl to advance with his 
detachments, which had come up singly, on both sides 
of the high road to Bicetre. By charging at the same 
time with the Prussians, who were still fighting in the 
Bois de Garenne, they succeeded in repulsing the 
French at Pave-blanc. Meanwhile the enemy, by 
half -past eight, had formed a front of fifty guns, and 
three regiments of foot advanced to renew the attack 
on Petit-Bicetre and Bois de Garenne. They were 
received with a destructive musketry fire, and not even 
General Ducrot's personal influence could persuade the 
troops, who were young recruits, to go forward. The 
Zouaves posted at the farm of Trivaux were finally 
thrown into such confusion by the German shell that 
they fled wildly back on Paris. 

The General had to give up the attempt. His di- 
visions retired in evident disorder on Clamart and 
Fontenay, under cover of the artillery and of the 
cavalry, which had steadily stood fire; the German 
foot pursued them. The Bavarians stormed Pave- 
blanc under a heavy fire of their guns, the Prussians 


retook Dame-Rose after a short struggle, and forced 
their way past the farm of Trivaux into the wood of 
Meudon. The French still held the heights of Plessis- 
Piquet, which were to them of such vast importance 
and easy of defence, as well as the bastion at Moulin- 
de-la-Tour, where nine batteries were at once placed in 
position, and their fire commanded the whole of the 
western field of operations. 

The main body of the Bavarians had meanwhile 
advanced to the south, and, marching on, after nine 
o'clock, on Fontenay aux Roses, they came under a 
hot fire from the hill, as well as a flanking fire from a 
fort on Hautes-Bruyeres. Being informed of the situa- 
tion at the scene of conflict on the plateau of Bicetre, 
General von Hartmann at once sent forward a detach- 
ment of artillery as a reinforcement, and gave orders 
for the 5th Brigade to effect communication on the 
left, at Malabry. As soon as this brigade had deployed 
under a hot fire of Chassepots and artillery between 
Pave-blanc and Malabry, Greneral von Walther pro- 
ceeded to attack Plessis-Piquet. After making a 
short stand, the artillery retired round the park wall, 
and then the infantry came out from the wood of Ver- 
rieres, and, after a brief but sharp struggle, took pos- 
session of the southern mill. After half an hour's fir- 
ing, the Bavarians advanced on Hachette by rushes, 
and broke into the park of Plessis. The French kept 
up a hot fire from the fort of Moulin de la Tour on the 
spots seized by the Germans, by which the Bavarian 
field batteries suffered severely ; but they still effect- 
ively supported the further advance of the infantry, 
who now got close in under the earthworks. However, 
the defenders were already on the point of retiring, 
and when the Bavarians got up, at about three o'clock, 
they found the place deserted and guns left in position. 


Caussade's division had left Clamart to marcli on 
Paris ; Maussion's had abandoned the hill of Bagneux, 
in consequence, it was said, of mistaken orders, and 
Hugues' division was with difficulty brought to a stand 
at the Fort of Montrouge. 

The Bavarian Corps now took up the position it had 
won on the plateau of Bicetre to the right of the Fifth 
Corps. The fight had cost the Bavarians 265 men and 
the Fifth Corps 178 ; the French lost 661 killed and 
above 300 prisoners. 

The condition in which the French Fourteenth Corps 
returned to Paris caused such dismay that General 
Trochu found himself obliged to withdraw a division 
of the Thirteenth from Vincennes for the defence of 
the city fortifications. 

It was subsequently supposed that it would have 
been possible to capture one of the forts as early as on 
this day, by forcing a way in upon the heels of the 
enemy ; and so very appreciably shortening the siege. 
But the forts did not open their gates to shelter fugi- 
tives, to whom those of the capital were always open. 
The scaling of walls eighteen feet high can never be 
done without much preparation. Besides, such peri- 
lous attempts cannot be made to order ; they can only 
be achieved in a propitious moment by those who are 
on the spot. In this case almost certain failure would 
have endangered the important success just obtained. 

The Fifth Corps had meanwhile proceeded on its 
Way to Versailles ; a few National Guards, who had 
collected at the entrance to the town, were driven off 
and disarmed by the German Hussars. The 9tli Di- 
vision held the eastern road out of the town, the 10th 
was encamped at Rocquencourt, and strong outposts 
were placed on the Bougival-Sevres line. The 18th 
Brigade, which remained at Villacoublay to support 


the Bavarians in case of need, was only moved for- 
ward at nightfall. 

The 3rd Division of the Bavarian Corps was left 
on the heights opposite Plessis-Piquet, its outposts 
extending towards the wood of Meudon, where the 
French were still in possession of the chateau, and the 
sappers at once converted the trenches at La Toui'- 
du-Moulin so as to front north. The 12th Division 
was encamped at Tousenay, and to the rear as far as 

The main body of the Sixth Corps had taken up a 
position at Orly, its outposts extending from Choisy- 
le-Roi past Thiais to Chevilly. Maud'huy's division 
attempted to repulse them at this village, but without 
success. A brigade of the same corps at Limeil, on 
the right bank, was engaged in skirmishing with the 
French at Creteil. Within touch, further to the right, 
the Wiirtemberg Division occupied the banks of the 
Marne from Ormesson to Noisy-le-Grand, and behind 
that place the pontoon bridge at Goui'nay assured 
communication with the Saxon Corps. 

Thus on the 19th of September the blockade of 
Paris was complete on all sides. Six army corps on a 
line of eleven miles were di'awn up immediately in 
front of the enemy's capital, in some places within 
range of his guns, and protected in rear by a large 
force of cavalry. 


In full expectation of a battle to the north of Paris, 
the King had ridden out to join the Gruards, and in the 
evening head-quarters were moved to Ferrieres. 

Here Monsieur Jules Favre made his appearance to 
negotiate for peace on the basis of " not a foot of soil." 
He believed that, after so many victories and such 


heavy losses, the Germans would be satisfied with a 
sum of money. It need not be said that such pro- 
posals could not be considered, and only the possibility 
of granting an armistice was seriously discussed. 

It was to the political interest even of Germany to 
afford the French the opportunity of establishing a 
government by their own free and legalized election ; 
a government which should have full right and powers 
to conclude a peace ; for the self -constituted Goveim- 
ment at that time ruling in Paris was the offspring of 
a revolution, and might at any moment be strangled 
by a revolution. But, from a military point of view, 
every pause in the operations of war was a disadvan- 
tage. It would give the French time to push forward 
their preparations, and by raising for a time the siege 
of Paris, would enable the capital to obtain the most 
necessary supplies. 

The armistice could, therefore, only be granted in 
consideration of an equivalent. To secure supplies to 
the invading army, Strasburg and Toul, which inter- 
cepted communications by railway, must be given up. 
The siege of Metz was to be maintained; but with 
regard to Paris, either the blockade was to continue, 
or, if it were raised, one of the forts which commanded 
it was to be held by the Germans. The Chamber of 
Deputies was to be at full liberty to meet at Tours. 

These conditions, especially the surrender of the 
fortified towns, were absolutely rejected by the French, 
and the negotiations broken off. A week later Toul 
and Strasburg were in the hands of the Germans. 


(September 23rd.) 

As soon as the German coast seemed free from any 
danger of an invasion of French troops, the 17th Di- 


vision, left on guard there, was ordered to join the 
forces in France. It arrived before Toul on Septem- 
ber 12th. 

This place, in itself impregnable, but commanded by 
neighboring heights, had till now been invested by 
part of the troops of the Third Army, and shelled by 
the guns seized at Marsal and with field-guns, but 
without any particular effect. The infantry, on the 
other hand, had established a footing behind the rail- 
way embankment and in the suburbs quite close to the 
foot of the glacis, so that sorties were rendered almost 
impossible. In view of these circumstances haK the 
division was ere long sent to Chalons, where sixteen 
battalions and fifteen squadrons were barely sufficient 
to deal with the extremely hostile demeanor of the 
country people, to keep the roads open and keep open 
communications with Germany. Thus only seven 
battalions, four squadrons, and four field-batteries 
were left outside Toul. 

On the 18th there arrived from Nancy by railway 
ten guns of 15 cm. bore and sixteen of 12 cm. bore. 
It was decided to direct the attack on the place, on its 
western face, which was enfiladed from Mont-St.- 
Michel, and to breach the south-west bastion ; but first 
an attempt was to be made to reduce the place by the 
shorter process of an artillery attack. 

On the night of the 23rd platforms for the siege 
artillery were constructed by the infantry ; three on 
Mont-St.-Michel, seven on the heights on the left bank 
of the Moselle, and one on the right bank. Next 
morning sixty-two guns opened fire, and by half -past 
three the white flag was flying from the Cathedral. 

The place surrendered on the 23rd, on the same con- 
ditions as had been granted to Sedan. A hundred and 
nine officers were released on parole, 2240 rank and file 


were taken prisoners. Six companies took possession 
of the city that evening ; on the whole, it had suffered 

Twenty-one hea\^ guns, about 3000 stand of arms, 
and large stores of provisions and forage were seized. 


(September 28th.) 

Immediately after the victory at Worth, the reduc- 
tion of Strasburg became a primary object to the G-er- 
mans. This strong position, as a bridge-head com- 
manding the Ehine, was a standing threat to Southern 

When Marshal MacMahon evacuated Alsace, only 
three battalions of the line were left with the com- 
mandant of Strasburg. Stragglers escaping from 
various regiments engaged at Worth, the remnants of 
some four battalions and relief detachments, and of 
the Garde Mobile and National Guards, had, however, 
increased the garrison to 23,000 men. There was a 
complete absence of engineers, but 130 marine infantry 
formed a company of trustworthy men ; the armament 
of guns was also ample. 

So early as on the 11th of August ""the Baden con- 
tingent had been detailed to observe Strasburg. Not- 
withstanding their small number, they had advanced 
unchecked on the plain known as Ruprechts Au, as 
far as the Rhine and the canal; had occupied the 
village of Schiltigheim, almost within rifle range of 
the fortifications ; and, after preparing it for defence, 
pushed forward into the suburb of Konigshofen. 

In the course of eighteen days the Landwehr Guard 
arrived, under the command of General von Werder, 
and the 1st Reserve Division, with one cavalry 


brigade, 46 battalions, 24 squadrons, and 18 field-bat- 
teries ; followed by a siege-train of 200 field-pieces and 
88 mortars, with 6000 foot artillery and ten companies 
of sappers and miners ; 40,000 men in all. 

The unloading of the guns brought from Magdebui'g, 
Coblentz, and Wesel was begun on August 18th by a 
detachment of the Railway Battalion, at the station of 

The engineers' depot was established at Hausberge, 
a gun-carriage depot at Lampertsheim, and magazines 
were constructed. The city was blockaded on all 
sides, and a field telegraph kept up communication 
between the posts. 

To attain the desired end with the least possible 
delay, an attempt was made, contrary to the advice of 
General Schultz, of the engineers, though with con- 
sent from head-quarters, to force the town to surrender 
by means of a bombardment. The request to remove 
the women and children had to be refused. 

The erection of the batteries for bombardment in 
the dark, wet nights was attended with gi-eat difficul- 
ties. Meanwhile only the field-guns could fire on the 
fortress; however, the batteries whose armament of 
heavy pieces was complete were able to open fire on 
the night of the 24th-25th ; and part of the town was 
soon in flames. Kehl, on the right bank of the river, 
was also set on fire by shell. 

The Bishop of Strasburg came out to the outposts 
at Schiltigheim to crave quarter for the citizens. 
Much as the injury of a Grerman town was to be 
regretted, as the Prelate was not empowered to make 
terms, the firing had to be continued through the night 
of the 25th, when it was at its hottest. At the same 
time, it was fully acknowledged at head-quarters in 
Mundolsheim that the end would not be attained by 


these means, and that the more dehberate method of a 
regular siege must be tried. G-eneral von Mertens was 
placed in command of the engineering operations, 
General Decker of the artillery. 

During the night of the 29th-30th of August the first 
parallel was opened very near the glacis, and thence 
extended from the Rhine and Marne canal, past the 
churchyard of St. Helena, to the Jewish cemetery at 

The number of batteries on the left bank of the 
Rhine was soon increased to 21; on the right bank to 
4 ; so that 124 guns of the heaviest calibre were ready 
in intrenched positions to begin the duel with the 
guns of the fortress. Further preparations for attack 
were directed against bastions Nos. 11 and 12 on the 
north-west salient of the fortress. In the night of 
August 31st the second parallel was occupied without 
opposition. A strong sortie of fourteen companies of 
the garrison was driven back at daybreak on the 1st 
September from the island of Waken, and from Kron- 
burg and Konigshofen. 

The forts now opened a sharp fire, sending such a 
storm of projectiles down on the siege works that they 
had to be abandoned, till at about nine Q'clock the Ger- 
man artillery had silenced the French guns. A second 
attack followed on the 3rd September, which was not 
repulsed before it had reached the second parallel. 

A short truce was granted at the request of the com- 
mandant, to allow of the burial of the dead lying out- 
side the trenches. And on this day a grand feu-de-joie 
announced to the besieged the fall of Sedan. 

Incessant rain had filled the trenches of the second 
parallel, 2400 paces in length, ankle-deep with water, 
and it was not till the 9th that they were completely 
repaired. Five batteries from the first parallel were 


moved to the front. Special batteries had to be con- 
structed for the attack of lunette No. 44, which flanked 
all the siege works. These soon silenced its guns, and 
it was abandoned by the French. 

The Germans had now got 96 mounted field-pieces 
and 38 mortars in full fire, at a very short range. 

Each gun fired twenty grape-shot a day and ten 
shrapnel every night. The large Finkmatt Barracks 
were destroyed by fire, and the Steinthor Gate was so 
much injured that it had to be buttressed up with 
sandbags. The garrison withdrew the guns behind 
the parapet, and only fired their mortars. Neverthe- 
less, to carry on the siege works the sap-rollers had to 
be called into requisition. 

When the French discovered that mining galleries 
had been constructed in front of lunette No. 53, Cap- 
tain Ledebour was let down by ropes into the trenches, 
and with the help of his sappers removed the charges 
of powder. 

During the night of the 13th, the crest of the glacis 
between lunettes 52 and 53 was reached. The crown- 
ing of the covered way was begun, by means of double 
saps with traverses, and finished in four days. 

The attack henceforth was exclusively directed 
against bastion No. 11. 

To divert the water from the moat the sluices by the 
Judenthor (gateway) must be destroyed. They were 
invisible from any part of the scene of operations, and 
the work could only be very inefiiciently done by artil- 
lery at a distance of a quarter of a mile. Detachments 
of the 34th Fusilier Regiment, therefore, on the 15th, 
marched on the sluices under a heavy rifle fire from 
the besieged, and destroyed the dam. 

The island of Sporen was at the same time occupied 
by the Baden Corps. 


When the mortar-batteries had for the most part 
been moved up to the second parallel, the guns were 
also advanced to the second position, and the rifle-pit 
detachments did such execution by their excellent 
practice that the French never dared show themselves 
by daylight. 

The inner wall of lunette No. 53 could only be hit 
by indirect fire ; but 1000 shells made a breach, and on 
the 19th of September two mines were fired which 
blew up the counterscarp and laid it level with the 
water-line. The Germans immediately began laying a 
fascine-made dam across the moat. A party sent 
over in boats found the work abandoned. The gorge 
was closed under heavy fire from the ramparts, and 
the parapet turned so as to oppose the fortress. 

The next lunette. No. 52, was merely an earthwork, 
and the attack had akeady been pushed forward as 
far as the edge of the moat, but blinded saps had first 
to be thrown up and covered in with rails, as a protec- 
tion against the heavy fire of shell from bastion No. 12. 

The construction of a dam of fascines or earth, more 
than sixty paces across, and in water more than breast- 
high, would have taken a long time ; so it was decided 
to make a cask-bridge of beer-barrels, of which a 
quantity had been found in Schiltigheim. This work 
was begun at dusk on the 21st, under no better pro- 
tection than a screen of boards to prevent observation, 
and it was finished by ten o'clock. Here again the 
defenders had not expected that the waU would be 
scaled, and this lunette too was immediately prepared 
for further attack. Both lunettes were now furnished 
with batteries of mortars and guns to silence the fire 
from the ravelins and counter-guards of the front of 
attack, against which five dismounted guns and coun- 
ter-batteries were also directed. 


During the night of the 22nd the Germans advanced, 
partly by a flying sap and partly by the sap-roller 
from lunette No. 52, and at once proceeded to take up 
a position on the crest of the glacis in front of counter- 
guard No. 51. A breaching fire was opened against 
the eastern side of bastion No. 11, and the western side 
of bastion No. 12, and the splinters of stone compelled 
the French to abandon the counter-guards. The walls 
of bastion No. 11 feU in on the 24th, after a shelling of 
600 rounds. The breach in the earthwork at the angle, 
which remained standing, was postponed till the storm- 
ing of the place. 

In bastion No. 12 it was more difficult to make a 
breach, because of the limited means for observing the 
effect of the fire. It was not till the 26th that a breach 
of thirty-six feet wide was made, after firing 467 minie 
shells. And even now, to really storm the place, the 
deep moat surrounding the bastion must be crossed. 

News of the fall of the Empire had by some means 
reached Strasburg, but G-eneral Uhrich would not 
listen to the prayers of the citizens that he would 
put an end to their sufferings. The Eepublic was 

The siege had lasted thirty days, but the place was 
still well supplied with food and stores ; the garrison 
was not materially weakened by the loss of 2500 men, 
but their heterogeneous elements prevented any action 
in large bodies outside the walls. From the first the 
small blockading force had been allowed to approach 
close to the works; and the one moment when the 
artillery of a fortress has the advantage over the enemy 
had not been fully utilized. 

The German artillery had proved much the stronger, 
both as regards materiel and in its advantageous 
employment. Under protection of its fire the sappers 


and infantry carried on the works with equal conrage 
and caution, never swerving from the object in view. 
The storming of the inner wall was now imminent, 
and no relief from outside could be hoped for. 

On the 27th of September, in the afternoon, the 
white flag was seen flying from the Cathedral tower ; 
firing ceased and the engineering works were stopped. 

At two in the morning the capitulation ^as signed, 
on the same conditions as at Sedan. Five hundred 
officers and 17,000 men were made prisoners, but the 
officers, if they chose, were free on parole. The Na- 
tional Guards and franctireurs were dismissed, after 
laying down arms and pledging themselves to fight no 
more. All the cash in the bank, 1200 guns, 200,000 
small arms, and considerable stores proved valuable 

At eight o'clock in the morning of the 28th com- 
panies of Prussian and Baden troops mounted guard 
at the gates (the National, the Fischer, and the Auster- 
litz gates). The French garrison marched out at the 
National Gate, General Uhrich at their head. At first 
the march was conducted in good order, but before 
long numbers of drunken men broke the ranks and 
refused to obey, or threw down their arms. The pris- 
oners were taken first to Rastatt, under the escort of 
two battalions and two squadrons. 

The old German town, which had been seized by 
France in time of peace nearly 200 years before, was 
now restored by German daring to German rule. 

The besiegers had lost 39 officers and 894 men. The 
city, of course, had suffered considerably. Four hun- 
dred and fifty houses were utterly destroyed, 10,000 
inhabitants were roofless, nearly 2000 killed and 
wounded. The museum and picture gallery, town 
hall, theatre, new church, gymnasium, Commandant's 


residence, and a public library of 200,000 volumes had 
been burnt. 

The noble Cathedral showed many traces of shot, 
and the citadel was a heap of ruins. Under the wreck 
of the west front of the fortifications lay shattered 

The fall of Toul and of Strasburg made a not unim- 
portant change in the conduct of the war. Consider- 
able forces were now free for other uses, and transport 
by railway could be effected much nearer to the armies. 

The materiel which was no longer required at Stras- 
burg could not indeed be at once employed for the 
artillery attack on Paris ; it needed considerable addi- 
tions, and was to do duty meanwhile in the reduction 
of several smaller places. 

The newly-opened railway line was used at once to 
convey the Landwehr Guards Division to assist in 
blockading Paris. A new army corps, the Fourteenth, 
was created out of the Baden Division with a brigade 
composed of the 30th and Sith Prussian Eegiments, 
and one cavalry brigade ; and this, under the com- 
mand of Greneral von Werder, marched on the Upper 
Seine. The 1st Reserve Division remained in occupa- 
tion at Strasburg. 


The Government, in the now closely-blockaded capi- 
tal, could not make themselves heard and obeyed in 
the provinces. They therefore decided on sending 
two of their members to the scene of dehberations at 

Even these could only quit Paris in a balloon. One 
of these delegates was Gambetta, whose restless energy 
soon made itself conspicuously felt, and for as long as 
the war lasted. 


Monsieur Thiers, meanwliile, had visited every Eu- 
ropean court to invite some intervention in favor 
of France. After the failure of the attempt of Sep- 
tember 19th the feeling in Paris was against any great 
offensive demonstrations ; but the troops of the line 
still remained outside the walls under protection of 
the forts. The divisions of the Thirteenth Corps were 
encamped on the south side and on the plains of Vin- 
cennes; the Fourteenth were at Boulogne, Neuilly, 
and Clichy, behind the Seine, with Mont Valerien in 
their front. This fort was held by two battalions of 
the line, after the Gardes Mobiles had fled, on the 20th, 
from that perfectly impregnable stronghold, in great 
disorder back into Paris. The northern front of the 
city was still defended by the G-ardes Mobiles. 

On the German side the posts of the Army of the 
Meuse, which were to be occupied and defended under 
all circumstances, extended from Chatou, along the 
Seine, to the heights of Montmorency, and from the 
Moree and the skirts of the forest of Bondy as far as 
the Marne. In connection with these were the lines 
of the Wiirtemberg contingent from Noisy-le-Grand, 
across the Joinville peninsula to Ormesson. To fill 
the gap from thence to Villeneuve-St.-Georges the 
Eleventh Corps arrived from Sedan \>n the 23rd, and 
the 1st Bavarian Corps occupied Longjumeau for 
security against Orleans. The Sixth Corps could now 
be transferred to the left bank of the Seine, where the 
line of defence extended along the wooded heights 
south of Paris to Bougival. 

The head-quarters, occupied by the King and the 
Third Ai'my, were at Versailles ; those of the Army of 
the Meuse were transferred to Vert-Galant. Numer- 
ous bridges connected the various portions of the 
forces, telegraphs and signal lights insured their rapid 


concentration, and every movement of the French was 
watched from posts of observation. 

There was no lack of quarters for the men. Every 
village was deserted; but the difficulty of obtaining 
supplies was all the greater. The fugitive inhabitants 
had di'iven off their cattle and destroyed their stores ; 
only the wine-cellars seemed inexhaustible. For the 
first few days all the food needed had to be drawn from 
the commissariat stores, but ere long the cavalry suc- 
ceeded in obtaining fresh provisions. High prices and 
good discipline made traffic safe. Only the advanced 
companies had to bivouac or build huts, many within 
range of the fort guns, some even within that of the 
French rifles. Near St. Cloud, for instance, no one 
could show himseK without becoming a mark for the 
Chassepots behind the shutters of the houses opposite. 
The sentries here could only be relieved at night, and 
sometimes had to remain on duty two or three days at 
a time. The posts of the Bavarians at Mouhn-la-Tour 
were also much exposed, and the officers on their 
rounds were always subjected to a sharp cannonade. 
Le Bourget, which stood within the line of inundation, 
was especially liable to a surprise. It had been taken 
on the 20th by a battalion of Guards, at whose ap- 
proach 400 Grardes Mobiles had fled, leaving all their 
baggage. Only one company was left there, as it 
was close under the heavy fire of the neighboring 

Some minor sorties from St. Denis met with no suc- 
cess ; but detachments of the Sixth Corps (German) 
vainly endeavored to take up positions in the hamlet 
of Villejuif or the earthworks on Hautes-Bruyeres. 
They made their way in several times, but always had 
to retire under the fire of the neighboring forts of 
Bicetre and Ivry, and the superior numbers of Maud'- 


huy's division. The French then placed heavy guns 
in Bicetre. 

(September 30th.) Early on this day a cannonade 
of an hour and a half s duration from the southern 
forts announced a sortie in that direction. By six 
o'clock two brigades of the Thirteenth Corps (French) 
had deployed near Thiais and Choisy-le-Roi. Strong 
parties of tirailleurs di'ove in the outposts of the Sixth 
Corps, and forced the field-guns between those two 
villages to retire ; but then the fire of the infantry in 
occupation checked any further attack on the part of 
the French. Further to the west a third brigade got 
into Chevilly and seized the buildings of a manufac- 
tory on the road to Belle-Epine ; still their determined 
attack failed to get possession of the whole village. 

The 11th Division, in their quarters in the rear, took 
alarm, and advanced to the support of the 12th. The 
factory was recovered from the French, and the Prus- 
sian batteries now opened fire, and worked such havoc 
among the enemy as they retired on Saussaye, that 
under the further attack of the infantry they fled in 
the greatest disorder to Hautes-Bruyeres and Villejuif . 
A brigade which had forced its way into L'Hay was in 
the same way repulsed, leaving 120 prisoners, for the 
most part unwounded. In the farmstead at the north 
end of Chevilly, however, the French still held their 
ground with great obstinacy. Not till they were com- 
pletely surrounded, and had made an ineffectual 
attempt to force a way out, did they surrender, to the 
number of about 100. 

The whole attempt was defeated by about nine 
o'clock, and Greneral Vinoy vainly endeavored to incite 
the diminished battalions at Hautes-Bruyeres to return 
to the charge. 

These few morning hours had cost the Sixth Corps 


28 officers and 413 men ; and the French several times 
as many. 

Two simultaneous feint attacks on Sevres and on 
Mesly, on the right bank of the Seine, came to noth- 
ing. The German outposts, at first driven in, returned 
to their posts by about nine o'clock. 

After thus failing to force an exit to the south by 
this sortie, the garrison proceeded to secure the posi- 
tion they held by outworks. They fortified Villejuif 
and extended their lines from Hautes-Bruyeres, past 
Arcueil to the Mill of Pichon, so that the Bavarian 
outposts had to be withdrawn somewhat nearer to 

But throughout the first half of the month of Octo- 
ber the garrison of Paris restricted itself, for the most 
part, to daily cannonades. Gruns of the heaviest cali- 
bre were directed on the smallest objects. It was 
waste of ammunition, just as though their object was 
to get rid of the stores they had by them. If one of 
the gigantic minie shells happened to fall on a picket, 
the destruction was of course terrific; but on the 
whole they did little execution. 

Apart from the noise, to which they soon became 
accustomed, at Versailles, whence none of the resi- 
dents had fled, it might have been a time of perfect 
peace. The admirable discipline of the German troops 
allowed the townsfolk to pursue their business undis- 
turbed ; the hosts were well paid for the soldiers quar- 
tered on them, and the country people could cultivate 
their fields and gardens in peace. At St. Cloud every 
room was kept in the same order as when the Imperial 
family had left it, till the sheUs from Mont-Valerien 
reduced that delightful palace, with all its treasures of 
art, to a heap of charred ruins. It was the French 
fire too which wrecked the Chateau of Meudon, the 


porcelain factory of Sevres, and whole villages in the 
neighborhood. And, without any necessity, the 
French themselves felled half the Bois de Boulogne. 

The blockade was considerably strengthened between 
the 10th and 16th of October, when the 17th Division 
arrived from Toul to relieve the 21st at Bonneuil, and 
the 21st took up a position between the Bavarian and 
the Fifth Corps, in the line from Meudon to Sevi'es, 
while the Landwehr Guards Division came to occupy 
St. Germain. 

These movements were observed from Paris, and, to 
clear up the situation, General Vinoy advanced, at 
nine o'clock on the 18th, with about 25,000 men and 
280 guns, on the position held by the Bavarian Corps. 

Four battalions of Gardes Mobiles, protected by the 
fire of the forts, proceeded to attack Bagneux, and 
forced their way over the battered-in fortifications 
into the heart of the place, whence the German defend- 
ers retired to Fontenay, when, at eleven o'clock, the 
10th Regiment of the line (French) had also come up. 
Reinforced by a fresh battalion, and supported by an 
effective flanking fire from Chatillon, they now made 
so firm a stand that the enemy could make no further 
progress, but began to put Bagneux in a state of de- 
fence. Meanwhile the 4th Bavarian Division had 
formed up, and by about 1.30 General von Bothmer 
came up from Sceaux and from Fontenay, on both 
sides at once, on Bagneux. They climbed over the bar- 
ricades erected by the French, who, however, still 
offered an obstinate resistance in the northern part of 
the village. 

A French battalion had also made its way into 
Chatillon, but the Bavarian battalion on guard there 
held its own until assistance came, and the enemy was 
driven out of the place after a sharp conflict. 


A third brigade seized Clamart, which at that time 
was not included in the Grerman intrenched Hnes ; but 
they failed to climb the slopes leading to Moulin-de-la- 
Tour, although the Germans occupying the plateau 
there were under fire from the fort. 

General Vinoy had convinced himself that a suffi- 
cient force was prepared to make head to him at every 
point, and at three o'clock he decided on giving up the 
struggle. The French detachments gi'adually disap- 
peared behind the forts, and had all vanished by dusk. 
The Bavarians returned to their former positions, and 
the force at Bagneux was strengthened to two bat- 

France had all this while been arming with zealous 
haste. Armies of considerable strength were being 
massed at Rouen and at Evreux, at Besan^on, and 
especially beyond the Loire, of very various compo- 
sition, no doubt, and with a serious lack of profes- 
sional officers to drill and discipline them. Great bat- 
tles were therefore to be avoided ; the enemy was to be 
harassed by constant small engagements. 

Thus, towards the end of September, General Dela- 
rue had already advanced from Evreux with his troop 
of scouts (Eclau'eurs de la Seine) close on St. Germain. 
But the 6th Cavalry Division, supported by two Ba- 
varian battalions, drove these, too, back across the 
hue to Dreux. 

The woods in front of the 5th Cavalry Division 
were full of detachments of the French, who were, 
however, repulsed without much difficulty to Ram- 
bouillet and Epernon. 

Matters looked more serious to the south of Paris, 
where the 4th Cavalry Division were observing the 

The newly-formed French Fifteenth Corps had as- 


sembled at Orleans, in three divisions, 30,000 strong, 
and they occupied the whole forest belt on the right 
bank of the Loire. To avert the danger here of being 
outflanked, the First Bavarian Corps and the 22nd 
Division of the Eleventh had, as has already been 
mentioned, started to march on Arpajon and Mont- 
chery as soon as they were released from Sedan ; and 
on the 6th of October they were placed, with the 2nd 
Cavalry Division, under the command of Greneral von 
der Tann. 


As soon as General von der Tann had received 
instructions to act on the offensive against Orleans, 
he marched, on the 9th of October, to the vicinity of 
St. Peravy without meeting any serious opposition, 
and on the 10th advanced on Artenay. The 4th Cav- 
ahy Division covered the right flank, the 2nd remained 
near Pithiviers, where the French had collected in 
great force. 

But General La Motterouge had on the same day 
advanced to Artenay with the Fifteenth Corps 
(French), having the wood in his rear occupied by 
Gardes Mobiles, so the advanced guards of the two 
armies met at a short distance to the north of the goal 
of their march. 

While the Bavarian light horse, on the right, drove 
the French cavahy before them, the infantry deployed 
across the road close to Dambron. The 22nd Division 
(German) marched on Dambron with a cavalry division 
on each flank. Under the fire of the Bavarian bat- 
teries, the French had turned off towards Artenay, 
where the Germans were ready to receive them. At- 
tacked in front and threatened by bodies of horse, at 
about two o'clock, leaving their tents behind them, 
they began a retreat, which soon degenerated into 


flight. The cavahy seized four field-guns, and took 
above 250 prisoners. Six hundred more, who had 
reached Croix-Briquet, surrendered there to the Ba- 
varian infantry. 

The German troops had made a long march ; Gen- 
eral von der Tann therefore called a halt in and around 
Artenay, and only the advanced guard went on to 
Chevilly, to proceed to Orleans next day. 


(October 11th.) 

The 22nd Division, only 6000 strong, set out on 
October 11th, on the right of the advancing forces, and 
drove the French out of several villages partly prepared 
for defence ; it was not till about ten o'clock that they 
met with any serious opposition, from an intrenched 
position at Ormes. 

The French commander, after the disaster at Ar- 
tenay, decided on a retreat behind the Loire, and to 
cover it he placed about 15,000 men on the ground on 
the right bank of the river, which possessed many 
essentials towards a good defence. 

General von Wittich first marched his 44th Brigade 
against the French position at Ormes, and then opened 
fire from seven batteries. His left wing, supported by 
the Bavarian right, made their way but slowly over 
the plain to the east of the enemy's position, and vari- 
ous enclosures and buildings had to be stormed and 
taken as they advanced. This threatening movement 
on their right flank, however, shook the firmness of 
the French, and, after some hours' hard fighting, they 
began to yield. No sooner was this observed by the 
Germans than two batteries were brought up to within 
800 paces, and the 83rd Regiment stormed the place at 


two in the afternoon, but with much loss. Detach- 
ments of the 43rd Brigade had meanwhile reached the 
road in the rear of Ormes, and took 800 prisoners. 
The villages, orchards, and vineyards which line the 
road to Orleans for above a mile on either side were 
serious obstacles to the advance of the Grermans, and 
the division did not arrive at Petit-St.-Jean till three 
o'clock ; there they stormed the most advanced build- 

The Bavarian Corps, which had met with a stout 
resistance at Saran, pushed forward to Bel- Air, but 
with great loss, especially among the artillery. Here 
the nature of the gi'ound did not allow of the align- 
ment of the guns, and the attack came to a standstill ; 
at half -past four the French were still holding their 
own at Les Aides, till the advance of the 4th Bavarian 
Brigade on Murlins threatened to cut off their retreat. 
Then they again made a stand behind the railway em- 
bankment, 1000 paces in front of the town, and the 
station and gas works had also to be taken by storm. 

It was five o'clock when General von der Tann led 
his Reserve Corps, the 1st Bavarian Brigade, to a 
decisive attempt on Grand-Ormes. The 32nd Prussian 
Regiment crossed the embankment on the left flank of 
the French, who now retired to the suWrb of St. Jean. 
The 1st Bavarian Regiment, hurrying up in its rear, 
was received with a hot fii-e at the gate of the town ; 
but aU the officers led the advance, and by seven 
o'clock they had reached the market-place. 

The French hurried down to the bridge over the 
Loire, the 43rd Prussian and the 1st Bavarian Bri- 
gades seized the principal buildings and the passages 
across the river ; but as darkness fell they gave up all 
further advance and bivouacked on the squares in the 


The day had cost the Grermans 900 men, the 3rd Ba- 
varian Brigade having suffered most. But their hard- 
won victory had gained security to the investing 
troops ; and 5000 rifles, ten locomotives, and sixty rail- 
way carriages were welcome spoil. 

The French rear-guard had lost in small skirmishes 
and retreats alone 1800 prisoners ; but it had covered 
the retreat of the main body of the Army of the 
South for a whole day against superior forces, with 
praiseworthy determination. In an open field, where 
the skilful wielding of compact masses is indispen- 
sable, it would soon have been defeated ; but in street 
fighting, under shelter of the houses, unflinching per- 
sonal courage is all that is needed, and even the recruits 
of the newly created French army did not lack that. 

On the following day the 1st Bavarian Division took 
possession of the suburb of St. Marceau, on the fur- 
ther side of the Loire, and advanced to the Loiret. 
The 2nd Cavalry Division scoured the district of So- 
logne, the 4th on the right bank kept a lookout to the 
westward. The Fifteenth Corps (French) had con- 
tinued to retire to Salbris and Pierrefitte, beyond the 

It might certainly have been wished that they could 
have been followed up to Vierzon and Tours, to de- 
stroy the vast stores of arms at the first-named town 
and disturb the Provisional Grovernment in the other. 
But it must not be forgotten that, though the French 
forces had been discomfited at Artenay, favored by 
the nature of the locality, they had escaped total rout 
by retreat. A new French corps d'armee, the Six- 
teenth, had come into existence at Blois, below Orleans, 
and at Gien, above that city ; it had come into col- 
lision with the German cavalry by the wood of Marche- 
noir and before Chateaudun, and the inhabitants and 


volunteers appeared so full of confidence that it was 
to be supposed they counted on fresh support. 

So the invaders were compelled to confine their 
operations to the occupation of Orleans and the line 
of the Loire ; and for this purpose the Bavarian Corps, 
with the 2nd Cavalry Division, seemed a sufiicient 
force. The 22nd Infantry and the 4th Cavalry Divis- 
ion were recalled to the Third Army, but on their re- 
turn march they were to disperse the volunteers who 
had made their appearance at Chateaudun and Char- 

Greneral von der Tann had the bridges over the 
Loiret and the Loire prepared for the march, stages 
were established to Longjumeau, and the Bavarian 
Eailway Corps set to work to restore the line to Ville- 


(October 15th.) 

Soissons still hindered the free use of the railway 
from Rheims, which had been re-opened by the fall 
of Toul. This fortress had been battered by artillery 
without success when the Army of the Meuse marched 
past it on the way to Paris, and since then it had only 
been kept under observation till October 6th, when 
eight Landwehr battalions, four squadrons, two bat- 
teries, two companies of pioneers, and four of fortress 
artillery completed the blockade. 

Soissons, with its walls eight metres high, was quite 
impregnable, and damming up the waters of the Crise 
would preserve it from attack on the south. The 
south-west front, on the other hand, had only a dry 
moat, with no counterscrap of masonry ; here, too, the 
town was commanded by Mont-Marion, rising to a 
height of ninety metres at a distance of less than a 


quarter of a mile. On this side, therefore, the artillery 
was preparing to attack at close quarters, when, on 
the 11th of October, 26 Prussian siege-guns arrived 
from Toul, with 170 rounds of ammunition and 10 
French mortars ; the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg took 
over the command. 

In a clear moonlight night the artillery was got up, 
with the help of the infantry, on to the heights at St. 
Grenevieve and BeUeu; and the batteries on Mont- 
Marion were constructed and armed. They opened 
fire simultaneously at six in the morning of the 12th 
of October. 

The besieged answered with great spirit but small 
results, and the accurate fire of the Prussian artillery 
soon reduced the French front to silence. 

A small breach was visible by next day, and the fire 
from the fortress was evidently much enfeebled ; but 
the Commandant decidedly rejected the demand that 
he should capitulate. On the 14th he increased the 
number of guns on his south front, so that the bat- 
teries on St. Grenevieve had a hard struggle. The 
French also labored hard to restore the damaged for- 
tifications, brought more guns up to the ramparts, and 
filled up the breach with abatis. 

But on the 15th these repairs were soon demolished 
again by the Prussian artillery, and a breach forty 
paces wide was made. As the fortress still kept up a 
brisk fire, it was determined to bring the field-batteries 
within 900 paces of the walls; but at eight in the 
evening, when this was just begun, the Commandant 
opened negotiations and surrendered the place on the 
same terms as Sedan. The garrison marched out next 
morning, for the most part drunk. A thousand of 
Gardes Mobiles were dismissed on parole, 3800 soldiers 
were made prisoners. 


The attack had cost 120 men ; 128 guns and 8000 
small arms were seized as plunder, besides vast stores 
of provisions. 


(October 18th.) 

In obedience to instructions, Greneral von Wittich 
marched on Chateaudun in the afternoon of the 18th, 
with the 22nd Division. The French troops of the line 
had already been ordered to retire on Blois, but about 
1800 National Gruards and volunteers remained, under 
cover of barricades and waUs, to receive the enemy. 
The infantry attack was also made more difficult by 
the nature of the ground, and four batteries had to 
keep up a hot fire for some little time. 

It was not till dusk that a general attack was at- 
tempted. The defence inside the town made a desper- 
ate resistance. House by house had to be seized, 
the fighting went on late into the night, and a large 
part of the place was set in flames. The volunteers 
finally retired, leaving 150 prisoners and abandoning 
the inhabitants to their fate ; and these, though hav- 
ing taken part in the struggle, werq^ let off with a 

At noon on the 21st, the division marched on Char- 
tres, where 20,000 French were said to have assembled. 
The G-ardes Mobiles and Marine Infantry advanced to 
attack, but were repulsed by the fire of seven batteries. 
The General in command deployed both brigades to 
the south of the city, and with the assistance of the 
cavalry, who had been joined by the 6th Division, 
completely surrounded it. The fate of Chateaudun 
had been a warning to the municipal authorities, and 
at three o'clock an agreement was come to, by which 


the troops were to be withdrawn, the National Gruards 
to lay down their arms, and the gates to be thrown 

General Wittich's orders were to remain at Chartres 
for the present, while the 6th Cavalry Division was to 
occupy Maintenon, and so cover the investing army to 
the west of Paris. 

Operations had been no less active in the north. 
The Saxon Cavahy Division, supported by a part of 
the Army of the Meuse, had in the early part of Octo- 
ber driven the franctireurs and Oardes Mobiles be- 
yond the Oise and the Epte on Amiens, taking some 
hundi'eds of prisoners. But fresh swarms were con- 
stantly coming on, and had to be attacked at Breteuil, 
Montdidier, and Etrepagny, so that no less than eleven 
battalions, twenty-four squadi'ons, and four batteries 
(Grerman) were by degrees employed in protecting the 
besieging force on this side of the capital. But by the 
end of the month the French forces were so regularly 
disciplined and in such numbers, that for a time the 
Germans could only hold and defend the Hne of the 

To the south-east also, in the forest-land of Fon- 
tainebleau, the volunteers were hostile, particularly to 
requisition parties of cavalry; and at Nangis they 
thi'eatened to obstruct the transport of siege-guns. A 
small force of Wiirtembergers seized Montereau, which, 
though barricaded, was not defended ; the inhabitants 
gave up their arms, and the victors marched on No- 
gent. This town was held by a large body of Gardes 
Mobiles. After breaching the walls of the churchyard, 
the "Wiirtembergers, in the face of a hot fire, made their 
way into the place. The French still offered a stout 
resistance, but finally retired on Troyes, leaving 600 
dead and wounded. 


The small flying column rejoined its division, hav- 
ing traversed twenty-seven miles (German) of country 
in six days. 


(October 21st.) 

The French capital had now been invested for more 
than a month, and it seemed not impossible that after 
such long inactivity it would be reduced to surrender 
by famine. All the sorties hitherto attempted had 
only di'iven the enemy out of the closest vicinity ; a 
new effort was to have a grander object in view. It 
was to cross the Seine below Paris at Bezons and Car- 
riere, and to effect a simultaneous attack on the posi- 
tion of the Fourth Prussian Corps on the heights of 
Ai'genteuil from the south, and from St. Denis on the 
east. The advance on Eouen was to pass by Pontoise 
thi'ough a district not yet altogether exhausted of sup- 
plies ; the Army of the Loire was also to proceed by 
railway to Rouen by Le Mans, thus forming a com- 
bined army of 250,000 men. 

The Prussian Fifth Corps, it was true, commanded 
the crossing of the Seine immediately in flank ; out- 
posts had several times been seen at Rueil. As a pre- 
liminary step. General Ducrot undertook to repulse 
this force with 10,000 men and 120 field-guns. Thus 
an intrenched hne from Yalerien and Carrieres would 
close the peninsula on the south. 

Perhaps, in the face of much-dreaded public opinion 
and the growing restlessness of pohtical parties in 
Paris, it was more a craving to be doing something 
than any serious hope which gave rise to such far- 
reaching schemes. Considerable difficulties had to be 
met in attacking the enemy's lines, and greater must 


inevitably arise if their attack should succeed. It was 
vain to think of getting through with miles of bag- 
gage-trains, which were indispensable to victual an 
army. Serious embarrassment would ensue when the 
troops had consumed the three days' rations they could 
carry with them. To live on the produce of the soil 
the army must be dispersed ; but with the enemy at 
its heels a close order of march was indispensable. 
And, in any case, it is hard to see what would have 
been gained by withdi^awing from Paris the forces 
which had been assembled for its defence. Success 
could only have been hoped for if an army from with- 
out had been so close at hand as to be within immedi- 
ate touch of the troops marching out. 

However, on the 21st of October, after Mont Valerien 
had all the morning kept up an ineffectual fire, Gren- 
eral Ducrot advanced at about one o'clock to attack 
the position of the Prussian 19th Brigade occupying 
the line of Bougival — Jonchere — Fohlenkoppel. Four- 
teen French field-batteries deployed on either side of 
the Rueil and at the southern foot of Valerien ; the 
infantry advanced in five columns in the rear of this 
artillery front. 

On the German side only two batteries could at first 
engage in the unequal duel, and one of these, at Villa 
Metternich, had very soon to retire. The French guns 
advanced to within 1400 paces of Bougival, and at 
thi'ee o'clock four companies of Zouaves rushed out of 
Rueil. Being received with a hot fire, they inclined to 
the left, throwing themselves into the park of Malmai- 
son, and without opposition seized the Chateau of 
Buzanval and the eastern slope of the deep ravine of 
Cucufa. And here one of their batteries was brought 
into the fighting line to support them. 

While the main body of the 9th Division (German) 


advanced from Versailles on Vaucresson, the lOth de- 
ployed by the ravine and at Villa Metternich. The 
infantry fire lasted for above an hour, and did much 
havoc among the French. When at about four o'clock 
they seemed sufiiciently shaken, and a reinforcement 
of the Landwehr Gruard had come up from St. Germain 
on the left, the German left wing advanced from 
Bougival over the hill of Jonchere, forced a way into 
Malmaison in spite of violent opposition, and followed 
the retreating Zouaves as far as Rueil. The right 
wing at the same time turning the head of the Cucufa 
ravine, advanced behind the eastern ridge and di'ove 
out the enemy, seized the battery of two guns, and 
occupied the Chateau of Buzanval. 

The French now retired on all sides, firing ceased 
by six o'clock, and the 10th Division, which had kept 
the enemy's advance in check single-handed, returned 
to their old position. 

The struggle had cost the Germans 400 men. The 
French, on the other hand, had in this luckless enter- 
prise left 500 dead and wounded, and 120 prisoners. 

Soon after this the French began to throw up earth- 
works within 800 paces of the line of the Guards Corps ; 
and on the morning of the 28th, General Bellemare, 
under cover of the darkness, advanced on Le-Bourget 
with a force of several battalions. 

The companies in occupation, taken completely by 
surprise, could only retire before such overwhelming 
numbers, on Pont-Iblon and Blanc-Mesnil. The French 
barricaded themselves into the place and prepared it 
for an obstinate defence. A German battahon made a 
vain attempt that evening to drive them out ; it was 
repulsed with heavy loss. They were equally unsuc- 
cessful next day with the fire of thirty field-guns which 
went up by Pont-Iblon. Now, however, the Crown 


Prince of Saxony issued imperative orders to the 
Guards to recapture Le-Bourget without delay. 


(October 30th.) 

Nine battalions of the 2nd Division of Guards and 
five batteries were therefore assembled under the com- 
mand of Lieutenant-General von Budritzki at Dugny, 
Pont-Iblon and Blanc-Mesnil for a general attack on 
the place. After the artillery had opened the attack, 
at about eight in the morning, from the banks of the 
Moree, the infantry advanced. The country lay per- 
fectly open, and they were under fire, not merely from 
Le-Bourget, but from the heavy guns of the fort. 
Queen Elizabeth's Grenadiers, at the head of the centre 
column, nevertheless made a successful assault at about 
nine o'clock, surmounting the barricade at the northern 
entrance, and getting into the village through a breach 
promptly made by the sappers. The Emperor Francis's 
Grenadier Regiment advanced on the west and took 
possession of the park. A hot street-fight ensued, the 
French firing from the houses, and the colonels of both 
regiments — Colonel von Zaluskowski and Count Wal- 
dersee — both fell. The farms on the left of the road, 
which had been walled in, were stormed one after an- 
other, in spite of a determined defence ; the windows 
of the church, though walled up to a considerable 
height, were scaled, and a hand-to-hand fight continued 
inside it. The guns of the Guards forced a way into 
the glass-works. 

At half -past nine the French tried to bring up rein- 
forcements from Aubervillers and Drancy; but the 
left German column had meanwhile seized the railway 
embankment, placed a detachment of the Emperor 


Alexander's Regiment to hold it, and forced a way into 
the village from the south. Two batteries had taken 
up a position on the Mollette and their fire drove back 
the French, and even compelled them to evacuate 

At ten o'clock the French still held the buildings on 
the north of the Mollette. They were now attacked 
from the south. The 4th Company of the Alexander 
Regiment crossed the stream and found their way 
through one of the breaches made by the sappers into 
the yard where the French had collected their forces. 
The bayonet and clubbed arms had to be used against 
them, and here their colonel — Colonel de Baroche — was 

Although by this time — eleven o'clock — the three 
attacking columns had met in the heart of Le-Bourget, 
the enemy continued the struggle in houses and gar- 
dens with embittered desperation till the afternoon, 
while all the forts on the north front of Paris shelled 
the place. It was not till half -past one that the attack- 
ing forces could retire in companies to their respective 
quarters. Two battalions remained to occupy Le- 

The desperate resistance of the French showed how 
important they considered this post. "The victory had 
cost the 2nd (German) Division of Guards 500 men. 
The enemy's loss is not known, but 1200 prisoners 
were taken. 

This new disaster added to the dissatisfaction of the 
inhabitants of Paris. The revolutionary factions, 
which at all times lurk in the French capital, came 
threatening to the front. 

Highly-colored reports could no longer conceal re- 
peated failures ; respect for the Government was fast 
dying out. The authorities were accused of incapacity, 


nay, of treason. Noisy crowds demanded to be sup- 
plied with arms, and a part of the National Guard even 
joined in the tumult. The Hotel de Ville was sur- 
rounded by a mob shouting Vive la Commune, and 
though other troops dispersed these gatherings, the 
ringleaders, though well known, went unpunished. 

On the 31st of October uproarious masses again 
paraded the streets. As General Trochu had forbidden 
the sentries at the Hotel de Ville to use their arms, the 
rebels forced their way in. The Ministers were their 
prisoners till the evening, when a few battahons who 
had remained staunch liberated them. 

Monsieur Thiers, who had returned from his fruitless 
journey to the European Sovereigns, thought it was 
time to re-open negotiations with Versailles. The 
King was still perfectly willing to grant an armistice, 
but it was impossible to accede to the conditions de- 
manded by the French, namely, that the city should 
receive a supply of food, so hostilities had to take their 

At this time, towards the end of October, the situa- 
tion on the Moselle had assumed an aspect which 
essentially modified that of the whole war. 

By the exchange of German prisoners for those 
French who had fought at Sedan, the news of the sur- 
render of Metz, which had immediately followed, was 
generally known. But Marshal Bazaine had declared 
that the Army of the Rhine was ready to defend the 
country against the invaders, and public order against 
evil passions — a clause which certainly could be inter- 
preted in more ways than one. 

It could on'ly have been a satisfaction to the Ger- 
mans, politically speaking, if there had been in France 
a supreme authority, besides the pretentious and feeble 
Government in Paris, with whom to agree as to the 


termination of the war. Permission was therefore 
given for the admission to Metz of a representative of 
the exiled Imperial family. As the Marshal was unable 
to show any credentials as holding such an office, Gren- 
eral Bourbaki was allowed to pass through the Glerman 
lines on an embassy to London, where, however, the 
Empress Eugenie declined to intervene in the already- 
disastrous affairs of France. The General then placed 
his services at the disposal of the National Defence 
Government at Tours. 

Meanwhile, the army which had been imprisoned in 
Metz since the battle of Noisseville remained in an atti- 
tude of expectation. The necessary provisions for 
70,000 inhabitants, including the country-folk who had 
taken refuge in the city, had originally been enough to 
last three months and a half; those for the regular 
garrison were calculated for five months, but for the 
whole Army of the Rhine they had supplies for only 
forty-one days, and there were oats for twenty-five 
days only. 

The supplies for the troops could, indeed, be recruited 
by purchase from the abundant stores of the citizens ; 
but ere long smaller rations of bread were served out, 
and horses had to be slaughtered for meat, so that most 
of the cavalry regiments were reduced to two squad- 

On the German side, victualling 197,326 men and 
33,136 horses was a matter of great difficulty. The 
outbreak of cattle-plague in Germany restricted the 
importation of live beasts to those procurable from 
Holland or Belgium. The meat supply had to be sup- 
plemented by tinned provisions ; and increased rations 
of oats had to take the place of hay and straw. 

The losses of the army had hitherto been made good 
from the reserves, but the transport of the prisoners 


from Sedan alone required the services of fourteen bat- 
talions of the blockading force. Thus it had not yet 
been possible to provide sufiS.cient accommodation be- 
hind the trenches. The raw, rainy weather had come 
on early in the season, and a quarter of the men were 
still roofless ; so that, by degrees, the sick in hospital 
reached the alarming number of 40,000. 

Although fifty heavy guns had been brought up from 
Germany, they were ineffectual against such a fortress 
as Metz, since, in consequence of the superior calibre 
of the fort guns, they could only be fired at night, with 
frequent change of position. There was nothing for 
it but to hope for the best, and have patience. 

For four weeks already had the besieged been con- 
suming their stores. To replace them in some degree, 
and, at the same time, to revive the spirit of the troops 
by some sort of action, the supreme commander decided 
on fetching in all the provisions to be found in the vil- 
lages within the line of blockade, under cover of the guns. 

At noon on September 22nd, Fort St. Juhen opened 
a heavy fire on the outposts of the First Corps (Ger- 
man). Strong detachments of infantry next advanced 
on the villages to the east, di'ove in the pickets, and 
returned to Metz with the stores they had seized. But 
a similar attempt on the villages to the north was less 
successful. Most of the wagons had to return empty, 
under the fire of the Prussian batteries, quickly brought 
into position to receive them. At last, on the 27th, a 
sortie for the same purpose was made to the south- 
ward, which led to a series of small conflicts, and the 
capture of a company, who were surrounded in Pelore 
by a much stronger force. A simultaneous sally on 
the left bank of the Moselle was baffled by the fire of 
the artillery of the besieging force which was hurried 
to the spot. 


Diedenhof en, on the north of Metz, had hitherto only 
been kept under observation by a small force, which 
could not hinder the garrison from scouring the country 
as far as the neighboring frontier, taking many prison- 
ers, seizing several wagon-loads of supplies, and even 
diverting a whole train of provision trucks into the 
fortress by the railway from Luxembourg, which they 
had restored. 

In point of fact, the Army of the Ehine, now distant 
only a day's march, would have found an important 
base in Metz, if the blockade could only have been 
broken through. Prince Frederick Charles therefore 
took good care to strengthen the investing lines to the 
north, on the right bank of the Moselle. On October 
1st the Tenth Corps took up the position hitherto held 
by Rummer's Eeserve Division, which was transferred 
to the left bank of the river. The First, Seventh, and 
Eighth closed up to the right, and the Second occupied 
the space between the Seille and the Moselle; the 
troops in front of Diedenhofen were also reinforced. 

The Marshal had, in fact, once more determined to 
fight his way to the northward, and on both sides of 
the river. New bridges were constructed behind St. 
JuHen and from the Island of Chambiere, the nearest 
German outposts were driven off to the west and north 
by a series of daily skirmishes. Under cover of the 
fort guns the French estabHshed themselves firmly in 
Lessy and Ladonchamps. The troops who were to be 
left in Metz were expressly selected ; the others tested 
as to their marching powers. Light-signals were ar- 
ranged with Diedenhofen, and all measures taken for 
a sortie on the 7th. 

Then the French commander suddenly changed his 
mind, and the proposed enterprise collapsed into a 
foraging party. 


For this, indeed, large forces were set in motion ; the 
Garde Voltigeur Division, the Sixth Corps, and the 
Fourth in the woods of Woippy. The movement was 
also to be supported by the Third Corps on the right 
bank of the river. 

Four hundred wagons were in readiness to carry off 
the stores from the large farms lying north of Ladon- 


(October 7th.) 

Although the start from Woippy, planned for eleven 
o'clock, was not effected till one, the Landwehr com- 
panies on outpost were driven in by superior numbers, 
and as they defended their positions till their ammuni- 
tion was exhausted, they also lost a considerable num- 
ber of prisoners. But the artillery of the Landwehr 
Division prevented the removal of the stores ; the 5th 
Division attacked the French in flank and drove them 
back on Bellevue, where a hot fire ensued on both 

The French Third Corps had advanced by the right 
bank of the Moselle on Malroy and Noisseville. Here, 
too, the outpost line retired ; but in their rear stood 
the Tenth and the First Corps, ready for action. The 
two commanders at once perceived that this attack 
was only a feint. Although threatened himself, Gren- 
eral von Voigts-Rhetz moved his brigade, the 38th, 
across the Moselle at Argancy by half -past two to sup- 
port the Landwehr Division, and as General von Man- 
teuffel sent him supports to Charly, the 37th Brigade 

No sooner had the first reinforcements arrived than 
General von Kummer assumed the offensive, seized 


the farm from the French after a sharp struggle, just 
as they were about to retire, and then, supported on 
the right by a detachment of the 5th Division, got into 
Bellevue by about six in the evening. Ladonchamps, 
however, was still in the hands of the French. The 
19th Division and the Reserve advanced on this place 
late in the evening. The Castle-yard, surrounded by 
a moat, was carefully intrenched, and strongly de- 
fended by infantry and guns. The darkness precluded 
effective artillery action, and the attack failed ; but all 
the other points previously held by the Germans had 
been re-occupied. 

The day had cost the Prussians 1700 killed and 
wounded, besides 500 reported missing. The French 
loss was given out to be no more than 1193. 

This attempt on the part of the French might be 
regarded as tentative, and preliminary only to a real 
struggle to break through ; perhaps it was so intended. 
The Grerman troops therefore remained in the positions 
they had occupied at the end of the day, in expectation 
of renewed fighting on the morrow. 

The forts did in fact re-open fire on the farm build- 
ings early on the 8th, while the German batteries 
directed theirs on Ladonchamps. Strong columns also 
advanced along the right bank of th6 Moselle, but no- 
where attempted a serious attack. The Prussian 
troops therefore presently retired to their quarters. 

The artillery duel was carried on for the next few 
days, but with diminished energy. Constant rain made 
all field operations very difficult and increased the 
sufferings of the men on both sides. In Metz the lack 
of victuals was becoming very painfully felt. Even 
on the 8th the Commandant had announced that his 
stores would not last more than twelve days. A council 
pf war, held on the 10th, was, however, of opinion that 


the greatest service the Army of the Rhine could do 
to the country was to hold out as long as possible, 
since they thus kept a large part of the enemy's forces 
employed outside Metz. 

The Marshal now sent General Boyer to negotiate at 
Versailles, but he was to demand a free exit for the 
army and emphatically refuse the terms granted to 

The state of affairs in Metz was perfectly well known 
to the Germans. The number of men who were taken 
willing prisoners while digging potatoes increased 
every day. They reported that riots had broken out 
in the city, in which even the soldiers had taken part, 
and that the officers in command had been compelled 
to proclaim the Republic. And when the Empress 
had declared that she would never give her consent to 
any cession of French territory, no further political 
negotiations were possible with the Generals of the 
Army of the Rhine. 

On the 20th the distribution of stores came to an 
end within the fortress, and the troops for the most 
part subsisted on horse-flesh. The original stock of 
20,000 horses was reduced by a thousand a day. The 
want of bread and salt was severely felt, and the soaked, 
clayey ground made living in camp almost unendura- 

After the failure of the deputation to Versailles, 
the imperative necessity of negotiating with the Com- 
mander-in-chief of the besieging army was recognized 
by a council of war held on the 24th. 

The first interview came to nothing, as the Marshal 
stiU stipulated for free egress, withdi'awing if required 
to Algiers, or else for an armistice and the admission 
of stores. The Germans insisted on the surrender of 
the fortress and the march out of the garrison as 


prisoners of war, and on these conditions the capitu- 
lation was signed on the evening of the 27th of 


On the morning of the 29th the Prussian flags were 
hoisted on the great outworks of Metz. At one o'clock 
the French troops marched out by six roads in perfect 
silence and good marching order. At each gate a 
Prussian army corps stood to take the prisoners, who 
were immediately placed in bivouacs that had been 
prepared for them, and supplied with food. The offi- 
cers were allowed to keep their swords and to return 
to Metz for the time; provisions were immediately 
sent in. 

Marshal Bazaine set out for Cassel. 

In the course of the day the 26th Brigade (German) 
took up quarters in Metz. No injury had been done 
in the city, but the state of the camp showed what the 
troops had suffered during a siege of seventy- two days. 

The Germans during that time had lost 240 officers 
and 5500 men in killed and wounded. 

Six thousand French officers and 167,000 men were 
taken prisoners, besides 20,000 sick who could not be 
at once removed — about 200,000 in all. Fifty-six Im- 
perial eagles, 622 field, and 2876 fortress-guns, 72 
mitrailleuses, and 260,000 small arms fell into the 
hands of the Germans. 

The prisoners were transferred by way of Treves 
and Saarbriicken under the escort of Landwehr bat- 
talions, and as these would have also to guard them 
when on foreign soil, their return was not to be reck- 
oned on. 




The capitulation of Metz, which Prince Frederick 
Charles had brought about under such serious diffi- 
culties, had materially improved the prospects of the 
war for Germany. 

At head-quarters at Versailles, even before the catas- 
trophe, but in confident anticipation of it, decisions 
had been arrived at as to the destination of the forces 
it would release for service, and communicated to the 

The First, Seventh, and Eighth Corps, with the 3rd 
Cavalry Division, were henceforth to constitute the 
First Army, under the command of General von Man- 
teuffel. Their orders were to advance on Compiegne 
and secure the blockade of Paris on the north. But 
they had other duties to fulfil ; they were to occupy 
Metz and lay siege to Diedenhofen and Montmedy. 

The Second, Third, Ninth, and Tenth Corps, with 
the 1st Cavalry Division, were to constitute the Second 
Army under Prince Frederick Charles, and were or- 
dered to advance on the Middle Loire. 

opeeations of the foueteenth coeps m the 



Since the faU of Strasburg the newly-formed Four- 
teenth Corps had been employed in keepmg up com- 


munications between the armies before Metz and the 
forces detained in blockading Paris. 

General von Werder had no gi'eat battle to look for- 
ward to, bnt a succession of small engagements. To 
prepare each of his four brigades for independent action 
under such circumstances, he detailed cavalry and 
artillery to each. 

In this formation the corps crossed the Vosges 
Mountains, by the two roads past Schirmeck and Barr, 
driving swarms of French franctireurs out of the nar- 
row passes without great loss of time. But on emerg- 
ing from the highlands they at once met with serious 

General Cambriels had been at Epinal with about 
30,000 men ever since the beginning of October, and 
under cover of this force several battalions of National 
Guards and Gardes Mobiles had been formed in the 
south of France. 

On the 6th, General von Degenfeld, with the ad- 
vanced guard of the Baden contingent, marched up to 
St. Die by both banks of the Meurthe. The column 
was a weak one and beset on all sides by far superior 
forces, yet after repeated attacks it succeeded in taking 
the villages held by the French. 

The struggle, which lasted seven hburs, ended with 
the eccentric retreat of the enemy on Rambervillers 
and Bruyeres. It had cost the Germans 400 and the 
French 1400 men. The Baden Division bivouacked on 
the field, and then found that the French had aban- 
doned St. Die. 

General Cambriels had, in fact, collected all the forces 
at his disposal in intrenched positions at Bruyeres. 
The Baden Brigade advanced on these on the 11th, 
drove the Guards Mobiles and volunteers out of the 
villages in front of it, climbed the hills on each side of 


the town, and forced their way into the town with 
inconsiderable loss. The French retired to the south- 
ward, on Remiremont. 

From the small resistance made by the enemy, 
though so far superior in numbers, Greneral von Werder 
supposed that they would hardly make a stand before 
reaching Besancjon, so he immediately ordered a cessa- 
tion of pursuit, though somewhat early in the day, and 
concentrated his forces on Epinal, which was taken by 
the Germans after a short fight. From thence depots 
were established, and telegraph lines opened to Lune- 
ville and Nancy, magazines were formed, and the bag- 
gage trains, which had followed the corps from Zabern 
by Blamont to Baccarat, were brought up. The rail- 
way by the bank of the Moselle remained useless for a 
long time, in consequence of its demolition by the 

General von Werder was now anxious to obey the 
instructions he had received on September 30th to 
march by Neuf chateau, on the Upper Seine, but a tele- 
gram from head-quarters instructed him first to rout 
the enemy near him under General Cambriels. 

The corps accordingly marched forthwith on Vesoul, 
via Conflans and Luxeuil, and learnt that the French 
had halted at the Ognon, taken up quarters there, and 
received reinforcements. 

General von Werder determined to attack at once. 
He ordered that the passages over the river should be 
secured on the 22nd of October ; further decisions were 
postponed till the reports should be brought in. 

The 1st Baden Brigade came up on the right by nine 
o'clock, reaching Marnay and Pin without having en- 
countered the French ; they secured the bridges, and 
then halted according to orders. 

On the left wing, the franctireurs were driven out 


of the wood by the 3rd Brigade, which also stormed 
Perrouse, and at about half -past two seized the bridge 
over the Ognon at Voray. 

In the centre the van-guard of the 2nd Brigade 
entered Etuz after a slight skirmish, but had to retire 
at eleven o'clock to the northern bank, before the 
enemy's flank attack from out of the woods. After- 
wards, when the main force came up and the artillery 
opened fire, the place was taken for the second time. 
But a prolonged firing ensued, the French making an 
obstinate stand in front of the passage over the river 
at Cussey. 

Before this, indeed, orders had been dispatched to 
the 1st Brigade to move up on the southern bank from 
Pin in the enemy's flank and rear. But they only 
reached the ground at six o'clock, when the battle was 
over. When two batteries had swept the bridge over 
the Ognon with a heavy fire, the French hastily retired, 
pursued by the Baden men ; they were again driven 
out of their positions to the rear, but when night fell 
still remained in possession of several posts in front 
of Besan(;on. 

The Germans had lost 120 men, the French 150 and 
200 prisoners. In opposition to G-ambetta, who was 
himself at Besangon, General Cambriel-s positively re- 
fused to renew the advance, and would only consent 
to maintain his strong position under the walls of the 

Parties sent out to reconnoitre on the right reported 
the presence of French forces at Dole and Auxonne, 
the van-guard probably of an Army of the Vosges 
under Garibaldi, which was assembling on the Doubs. 
General von Werder disregarded it, and on the 26th 
moved his corps to Dampierre and Gray. 

Beyond the Saone all the roads were broken up, the 


woods choked with abatis, and the whole population 
in arms. But the franctireurs and Grardes Mobiles 
were dispersed without difficulty, and a column march- 
ing without any precautions was driven back on the 
Vingeanne, where 15 officers and 430 men laid down 
their arms. 

From further reports and the information of the 
prisoners it was known that Dijon was strongly gar- 
risoned. In expectation, therefore, of an attack from 
that side, the Fourteenth Corps (German) assembled 
behind the Vingeanne, whence, early on October 30th, 
General von Beyer marched on Dijon with the 1st and 
3rd Brigades. 

Filled with apprehension by recent events, the Na- 
tional Guard in Dijon had already laid down their 
arms, the Gardes Mobiles and troops of the line had 
retreated to the southwards ; still the inhabitants were 
assured that the forces would be brought back to 
defend them. About 8000 men were on the spot, but 
they insisted on their General pledging himself to fight 
only outside the walls. 

The advanced posts on the Tille were driven in by 
the advanced guard of the Baden contingent ; the vil- 
lage of St. Apollinaire and the neighboring heights 
were taken with a rush at noon, in spite of a hot fire. 
Meanwhile the main body (German) had come up, and 
by three o'clock six batteries had opened fire. The 
vineyards and various enclosures in the neighborhood 
of Dijon, and especially the park to the south, which 
was strongly barricaded, gave the defence a great 
advantage. Nevertheless, the Baden infantry moved 
steadily forward and closed in on the northern and 
eastern suburbs by a wide encircling movement. 

On this side a fierce combat ensued, in which the 
populace took part. House after house had to be 


stormed, but the attack came to a standstill at the 
deep river-bed of the Suzon, which borders the city 
itself on the east. It was four o'clock, and the struggle 
could not be ended before dark. General von Beyer 
therefore broke it off ; the battahons were withdrawn, 
and retired to quarters in the adjacent hamlets ; only 
the artillery kept up its fire. 

The Germans had lost about 150 and the French 100 
men ; but 200 French were taken prisoners. 

In the course of the night a deputation came out to 
beg that the town might be spared ; they undertook to 
furnish supplies for 20,000 men, and to guarantee the 
neutrality of the inhabitants. 

The Baden brigades took possession of Dijon on the 

Meanwhile fresh instructions had reached General 
von Werder. He was to cover the left flank of the 
Second Army advancing to the Loire to protect both 
Alsace and the troops besieging Belfort, where two 
reserve divisions had now arrived. The Fourteenth 
Corps, while occupying Dijon, was to retire to Vesoul 
and check the gathering of French troops round Be- 
sangon and at Langres. Some offensive movement on 
Chalons and Dole was also insisted on.^ The difficulty 
of General von Werder's position was not fully appre- 
ciated at Versailles. At Besan^on alone there were 
45,000 French, under the command of a new leader, 
General Crouzat. Garibaldi had collected 12,000 be- 
tween Dole and Auxonne ; lower down the Saone valley 
a fresh corps was forming of 18,000 men, and 12,000 
National Guards and Gardes Mobiles threatened the 
flank of the isolated German Corps from Langres. 

But the French, instead of attacking this division 
with overwhelming numbers — spread out as it was 
over a distance of twelve miles (German) from Lure to 


Dijon and Grray — were haunted by a fear that the Ger- 
mans, reinforced from Metz, might be planning an 
attack on Lyons. Greneral Cronzat, leaving a strong 
garrison in Besan^on, consequently marched on 
Chagny, where, on November 12th, he was reinforced 
by 50,000 men from the south. Graribaldi's volunteers 
moved up to Autun to protect Bourges. 

General von Werder meanwhile had occupied Vesoul, 
and the town was fortified on the southern side. 

The only event of importance which remains to be 
mentioned, in October, was the attack on the French 
forts in the rear of the German army. 

At the beginning of this month the newly constituted 
4th Reserve Division, of fifteen battalions, eight squad- 
rons, thirty guns, and a company of sappers and 
miners, had assembled at Baden, and crossed the Rhine 
at Neuenburg. 

The neighborhood was first cleared of franctireurs, 
Mulhouse was occupied, and, by the desire of the 
municipal authorities, the excited inhabitants, all fac- 
tory hands, were disarmed. 

General von Schmeling was instructed to besiege 
Neu-Breisach and Schlettstadt, and at once sent one of 
his brigades to invest each of these places. On October 
7th the East Prussian Landwehr invested Breisach, and 
the field batteries shelled the town, but without effect. 
The other brigade, after dropping some necessary de- 
tachments, reached Schlettstadt with a small force, 
but was supported by troops from the depots along the 
road, so that 8 battalions, 2 squadrons, and 2 batteries 
invested the place. At the same time 12 companies of 
fortress-artillery and 4 companies of pioneers arrived 
from Strasburg with the necessary siege materiel, and 
a park of fifty-six heavy guns was established at St. 
put ; the Engineers' park was located at Kinzheim. 



(October 24tli.) 

At the beginning of the blockade, inundations and 
marsh land rendered Schlettstadt unapproachable on 
the east and south, and partly on the north. The place 
itseK was impregnable, with high walls and a wet ditch, 
armed with 120 guns and garrisoned with only 2000 
men, for the most part Gardes Mobiles. They lacked 
casemates, and on the west front the vineyards and 
hedgerows favored a close attack, while the railway 
embankment was a ready-made parapet for the first 

To divert the attention of the besieged from this 
front, a battery was constructed on the 20th at the 
Kappel Mills on the south-east, from which fire was 
opened on the barracks and magazines, and on the 
sluice which prevented the inundations. 

When, by the evening of the 21st, the infantry posts 
had advanced to within 400 paces of the glacis, the 
construction of the first parallel was proceeded with 
that night, behind the railway, and six batteries were 
placed at only 1000 metres from the ramparts. 

The garrison fired in the dark on the entire zone of 
attack, but almost without effect. By the morning 
the trenches were two feet wide and three and a half 
feet deep, and 20 heavy guns and 8 mortars were ready 
to open fire. 

A hot artillery duel now began with the fortress, 
which replied very steadily. The battery at the Mills 
did very perceptible execution by its reverse fire against 
the west front, and several guns and embrasures were 
severely damaged. The town was fired at several 
points, and the defenders' fire gradually ceased. 

During the night, which was very stormy, the 


attacking batteries kept up their fire, the parallel was 
widened, and two new batteries were begun. 

But at daybreak on the 2'4th the white flag was seen 
flying, and a capitulation forthwith signed, by which 
the town surrendered with its garrison and all its stores. 
The Commandant begged the Germans to take posses- 
sion at once, as the greatest disorder reigned within 
the town. The public buildings were being plundered 
by the mob and drunken soldiery, and a powder maga- 
zine was on the point of being blown up. The German 
battahons promptly restored order, extinguished the 
flames, and led away the prisoners. 

Seven thousand stand of arms fell into theii' hands, 
besides the fort artillery and a large quantity of stores. 
The siege had only cost the Germans twenty men. 

Schlettstadt was occupied by the depot troops, and 
the battalions released from that duty retired into 
South Alsace, three of them strengthening and com- 
pleting the blockade of Breisach. 


(November 10th.) 

This fortress, lying in the plain and of very sym- 
metrical construction, was surrounded by dry ditches 
of solid masonry, and not to be taken by a surprise. 
The garrison of about 5000 men had well-protected 
quarters in the bomb-proof casemates of the ravelins. 
Fort Mortier, standing near the Rhine, and constructed 
for an independent defence, effectually commanded the 
ground whence the intended attack must be made on 
the north-west front of the fortress. To this end 12 
heavy guns were brought up from Rastatt to Alt- 
Breisach, where the right bank of the Rhine commands 
the fort at effective vicinity. 


It was not till the end of October that the siege-guns 
aiTived at Alt-Breisach from Sehlettstadt, and as soon 
as the infantiy had advanced closer to the place, and 
all ^^reparations were complete, fii-e was opened on the 
fortress on November 2nd from Wolfganzen, Biesheim, 
and Alt-Breisach, m all 24 hea^y guns. 

By thi-ee o'clock a large part of the town was in 
flames, and detachments of infantiy were engaged 
hand-to-hand with the Fi-ench posts at the foot of the 
glacis. Fort Mortier had suffered severely; still, an 
attempt to storm it was repulsed, but at six o'clock it 
capitulated, lying almost in mins. Only one gun re- 
mained in serviceable condition. 

Two mortar batteries were erected to shell the main 
work, the defence was now more feeble, and on No- 
vember 10th Breisach surrendered on the same terms 
as Sehlettstadt, but the garrison was allowed to march 
out with all the honors of war. 

The fortress was almost uninjui'ed, but the town was 
for the most part buimt down or badly damaged. The 
GeiTQans had lost only 70 men ; 108 guns, 6000 smaU 
arms, and large quantities of stores fell into their hands. 
While these strongholds in Alsace-Lorraine were 
thus reduced by the Germans, Verdun still intercepte(^ 
the line of railway which formed thfe shortest line of 
communication with Oermany. 


(November 9th.) 

This place too was made impregnable by high waUs 
and deep moats ; but, on the other hand, it was sur- 
rounded by hiUs which commanded and defiladed it, and 
at the foot of these hills villages and ^dneyards favored 
an approach to within a short distance of the outworks. 


It was armed with 140 gnns and abundantly vict- 
ualled, and the gan-ison, which had been supplemented 
by escaped prisoners, was 6000 sti-ong. A bombard- 
ment by field-artillery had ah*eady proved perfectly 
ineif ectual. For a long time Verdun was only under 
observation, at fii'st by cavalry, and aftei^wards by a 
small mi x ed force. At the end of September the 65th 
Eegiment and 12 companies of the Landwehr were 
collected under G-eneral von Gayl before the east front. 
It was not tin October 7th that 2 companies of forti-ess- 
artillery came up, with some French guns of position 
from Toul and Sedan. The infantiy now advanced to 
within a few hundred paces of the west and north 
fronts and there took up a position. Under this cover 
the construction of the batteries was begun on the 
evening of October 12th. 

The soppy state of the ground after heavy rain, and 
the rocky subsoil, very t hinl y covered, made the work 
uncommonly difficult, yet by next moiTiing fifty-two 
guns could open fii-e. But the fortress rephed with 
such effect that before noon two G-emian batteries were 
silenced on the C6te-de-Hayvaux to the west. 

In the coui'se of this thi-ee days' artillery duel, 15 
Grerman guns were placed out of action, the aitillery 
lost 60 men, and the infantry 40. The disabled guns 
on the walls were constantly replaced by fresh ones. 

The gai'rison, who were far stronger than the be- 
siegers, now assumed the offensive. Dui'ing the stormy 
night of the 19th-20th, the pickets on the hiU of Hay- 
vaux were overpowered, and all the guns spiked. On 
the 2Sth a stronger sortie was made. The French 
swarmed up Mont-St.-Miehel to the north, destroyed 
the breast-works and casemates of the batteries, from 
which, however, the guns had been run back. Another 
party stormed Hayvaux, and as the soaked state of 


the ground prevented the guns from being withdi-awn, 
they were all totally disabled. The villages in the 
neighborhood were also occupied by the French. 

It was now self-evident that the means hitherto 
brought to bear on the reduction of Verdun were quite 
inadequate. But on the surrender of Metz the First 
Army was able to send up reinforcements. At the end 
of the month 5 battalions and 2 companies of pioneers 
and several of artillery arrived, bringing with them 
Grerman materiel. 

The siege-park now had 102 guns and abundant 
ammunition, so preparations were at once made for a 
regular attack. 

But for this the garrison did not wait. After an 
armistice had been granted, the place capitulated on 
November 8th, and the garrison, with exception of the 
local National Guards, were taken prisoners. The 
officers were dismissed with their swords on parole, 
and it was agreed that the materiel in store should be 
restored on peace being concluded. 



When the First Army had been ordered to reinforce 
the siege of Mezieres the 1st Infantry Division ad- 
vanced on that place, the 3rd Brigade was sent forward 
by railway to Soissons, and on November 15th invested 
the small fortress of La-Fere. The rest of the First 
Corps reached Rethel on the same day. The Eighth 
arrived at Rheims, and the 3rd Cavahy Division at 
Tagnon, between the two. The Seventh Corps was 
still fully engaged in guarding the prisoners and in 
investing Diedenhofen and Montmedy. 

Of the Second Army, the Ninth Corps and 1st Cav- 
alry Division had reached Troyes by the 10th, the 


Third had got to Vendeuvi^e, the Tenth to Neuf chateau 
and Chaumont. The important railway junctions 
there and at Bologne were occupied, and the demohtion 
of the hue to Blesme was repaired, so as to open new 
communications. The health of the Grerman forces 
had improved conspicuously dui-ing a series of short 
marches along good roads with abundant supplies ; but 
a telegram from Versailles now ordered a hasty ad- 

The Government in Paris being helpless, the Dele- 
gates at Tours were displaying increased activity. 
Gambetta, as Minister both of War and of the Interior, 
was exercising the power almost of a Dictator, and the 
warlike energy of this remarkable man had achieved 
the feat of placing 600,000 soldiers and 1400 guns in 
the field in the course of a few weeks. 

In the Arrondissements the National Guards were 
formed into companies and ba,ttalions; then in each 
Department formed into brigades; and finally they 
were amalgamated with the troops of the hne and 
Gardes Mobiles into stiU larger bodies. 

Thus, in the course of October, a new Seventeenth 
Corps took up a position at Blois, another, the Eight- 
eenth, at Gien, and a third, under Admiral Jaures, at 
Nogent-le-Rotrou ; then* movements being protected 
by General d'AureUe de Paladines, whose troops had 
recrossed the Loire. A large force was in Picardy 
under General Bourbaki, another at Rouen under 
Briand, and a third on the left bank of the Seine under 

The detachments of the German investing army, 
which were pushed forward to the south, west, and 
north, met on all sides strong forces of the enemy, 
which they had indeed repulsed in many small en- 
counters, but could not follow up to the bases. For 


this the arrival of the army released from the siege of 
Metz was needed, and this was not to be looked for 
before some time in November, while a general advance 
on Paris of all the French forces in the month of Octo- 
ber looked imminent. 

In consideration of the inferior strength of General 
von der Tann's division, now holding Orleans, at the 
council of war held at Tours it was decided to seize 
that important place. The attack was to be chiefly 
delivered from the west. The French Fifteenth Corps 
— two divisions and one cavalry division — -therefore 
assembled at Mer, on the northern bank of the Lower 
Loire, and the main body of the Sixteenth behind the 
forest of Marchenoir. The remainder of the two corps 
were to support the attack by Gien on the Upper Loire. 
Any further advance was not projected, at any rate 
for the present ; on the contrary. General d'Aurelle's 
instructions were to form an intrenched camp at Or- 
leans for 200,000 men. 

General von der Tann's reconnoitring parties to the 
westward everywhere met detachments of the French, 
which were indeed driven back in various skirmishes 
on the woods of Marchenoir, and without much diffi- 
culty, but which betrayed the vicinity of large forces. 
On the whole, an attack on the investing army on the 
south-west of Paris seemed the likeliest event, since 
this would imperil both the German head-quarters in 
Versailles and the siege-park at Villacoublay ; and the 
German reinforcements from the east would be longest 
in reaching the scene of the struggle. 

The French forces to the west of Orleans were already 
extended over a wide stretch of country from Beau- 
gency to Chateaudun. The volunteers grew bolder 
every day, and the people more hostile. 

At last, to get some more accurate information, Count 


Stolberg, on November 7th, made a reconnoissance in 
force. Three regiments of the 2nd Cavahy Division, 
two batteries, and a few companies of Bavarian in- 
fantry marched by Ouzouer and drove the enemy out 
of Marolles, but they found the skirt of the forest 
strongly defended. 

General Chanzy had his immediately available troops 
sent to St. Laurent-des-Bois. A sharp fij'e ensued, 
lasting about haK an hour, which proved very fatal to 
the Bavarian infantry ; and then, as the great superi- 
ority of the French was evident, the Q-ermans retired. 

As a matter of fact, both the French corps were 
already in full retreat on Orleans. On the 8th they 
held the wood, with their right wing occupying Messas 
and Meung, their left Ouzouer. The Fifteenth Corps 
was then to proceed to the Mauve and the Sixteenth 
to Coulmiers. Their van-guards were at Bardon and 
Charsonville respectively. Both the French cavalry 
divisions were marching northward on Prenouvellon 
to outflank the Bavarian right wing, with a force of 
ten regiments, six batteries, and several hundred volun- 
teers, thus cutting off its retreat on Paris. 

To meet this the Bavarian Cuirassiers started for St. 
Peravy, the 2nd Cavalry Division for Baccon, and, 
further south, the 2nd Bavarian Infantry Division 
advanced from Orleans on Huisseau and St. Ay. 

But an attack was threatening the German rear from 
the considerable force at Gien. It was the last moment 
in which they could hope to extricate themselves from 
so critical a position ; General von der Tann issued the 
necessary orders that same evening. However desir- 
able it might be to keep possession of Orleans, he 
could not accept battle in such thickly wooded country, 
which would so seriously impede the efficiency of his 
relatively strong artillery and cavalry, and where he 


might easily be hemmed in. The Greneral, however, 
determined to meet the most immediately threatening 
hostile force in the open ground by Coulmiers, by 
which he would be nearer to the 22nd Division at 
Chartres, and could call on it for support. 

Even before this Greneral von Wittich had asked and 
obtained permission to retire on Orleans, but on the 
9th he had only reached Voves, with his cavalry at 
Orgeres ; thus he could not take any direct part in that 
day's fighting. 

The Second Army was still on the march from Metz, 
and on this day its van had but just arrived at Troyes. 


(November 9th.) 

Left thus to its own resources, the First Bavarian 
Corps struck camp in the night, and on the morning 
of the 9th had formed on a narrow front on the skirt 
of the wood between Chateau Montpipeau and Rosieres, 
with the village of Coulmiers in front. The Bavarian 
Cuirassiers on the right wing protected the retreat at 
St. Sigismond, the 2nd Cavalry Division was posted 
in brigades along the front, with detachments well in 
advance and infantry posts ready in support. Only a 
small detachment remained in Orleans after the bridge 
over the Loiret had been destroyed, to protect the 
numerous sick and wounded in the field hospitals, and 
occupy the city, at any rate, till the fight was decided. 

The first reports brought in that morning were of 
the advance of a strong column of French from Cra- 
vant, on Fontaines and Le-Bardou. This was Rebil- 
lard's brigade, which, as it seemed, meant to turn the 
Bavarian flank and march on Orleans. To oppose it 
on the bank of the Mauve, General von der Tann, at 


about nine o'clock, sent the 3rd Brigade in a southerly- 
direction to Prefort, about half a mile distant, and as 
at the same time a sharp contest had begun at the 
outposts near Baccon, the 1st Brigade marched to La 
Renardiere. The remainder of the corps were left in 
and behind Coulmiers. The General's intention was 
to assume the offensive at this point, by attacking 
the French left flank if, as seemed probable, the enemy 
should direct his chief attack on the passage of the 
Mauve. To this end, also, the cavalry of the right 
German wing was ordered to retire on Coulmiers. 

But the superior strength of the French allowed of 
their reconnoitring much further to the left. While 
General d'Aurelle with the Fifteenth Corps detained 
the Bavarians to the south of the road from Ouzouer 
to Orleans, General Chanzy advanced with Barry's 
division against their centre and caused Jaureguiber- 
ry's to attack their right; and the strong force of 
cavalry under General Reyan took the road to Patay, 
thus threatening the communications with Paris. 

This movement of the French Sixteenth Corps com- 
pelled General von der Tann, at the very beginning of 
the engagement, to dispatch the 2nd Brigade, which 
had been his reserve, to prolong his right wing to the 
northwards towards Champs, thus obtaining touch 
with the 4th Cavalry Brigade. The Bavarian Cuiras- 
siers, retiring according to orders from St. Peravy to 
the southward, by eleven o'clock came up with Reyan's 
cavalry, which, however, was content with a mere 

Meanwhile the advanced posts of the Bavarians had 
been driven in by the enemy's superior numbers. The 
1st Jager Battalion in Baccon retreated on La-Riviere, 
after hampering the advance of the French horse bat- 
teries past Champdry for some httle time. It was here 


joined by the 2nd Battalion ; but these were presently 
in difficulties. Peytavin's division had closely pursued 
them past Baccon, brought five batteries up on La- 
Riviere, and then attacked the burning village from 
three sides at once. After a stout resistance, the 
Jagers retired in good order on Renardiere to join the 
1st Brigade, where General Diett had taken up a posi- 
tion for defence. 

When, after abandoning Baccon, Barry's division 
had continued its march past Champdiy, its batteries 
deployed opposite Coulmiers and in front of Saintry, 
preparing for the attack by strong ranks of tirailleurs. 

The 4th Bavarian Brigade occupied the park, extend- 
ing to the west ; the stone bridge further in front was 
held by two battalions, two others were sent to the 
right, to the farmsteads of Ormeteau and Vaui'ichard, 
so as to keep up some sort of communication with the 
2nd Brigade. One battery to the south and foui' to 
the north of Coulmiers were protected by the 5th 
Cavalry Brigade. 

Thus, at noon, the Bavarian Corps was spread out 
over a mile of ground, from Renardiere to the front of 
Gemigny, with only three brigades. But as the French 
right wing remained inactive, the br|_gade dispatched 
to Prefort was ordered back to Renardiere. 

When the French Corps had taken up a position 
opposite the thin Bavarian line, they attacked in ear- 
nest, at about one o'clock. 

The Jagers had indeed repulsed the enemy's first 
rush on Renardiere, but this position was no longer 
tenable with only four battalions against the whole of 
Peytavin's division. At about one o'clock General von 
Diett retired unmolested, under cover of an intermedi- 
ate position between two detachments, on the wood of 
Montpipeau and occupied its border. Here he was 


joined by the 3rd Brigade, which, had advanced from 
Pref ort, and found Renardiere ah'eady evacuated. The 
French had pursued, but timidly, and now found them- 
selves under fire from six batteries between the end of 
the wood at La-Planche and Coulmiers, so their right 
wing advanced no further. 

In the centre Barry's division, at about this time, 
had driven the Bavarian Jiigers out of the stone quar- 
ries in front of Coulmiers. Not till three o'clock did it 
advance to a renewed general attack on the 4th Brigade, 
which, however, was repulsed by the fire of the German 
guns and the repeated charges of the 5th Cavalry 

Meanwhile, d' Aries' brigade of the Fifteenth Corps 
(French), after leaving Renardiere, arrived to the south 
of Coulmiers, and its batteries also opened fire on that 
place. The Bavarian guns were compelled, before the 
rush of the French tirailleurs, to come into action fui'- 
ther in the rear, while the infantry drove the French 
out of the park at the point of the bayonet. 

But after four hours' fighting this single brigade 
could scarcely hold out against three French brigades. 
Of the whole corps only two battalions remained intact 
as a reserve at Bonneville, no reinforcement was to be 
looked for from outside, and on the right wing the 
French threatened to cut the communications with 
Chartres as well as with Paris. At four in the after- 
noon, Greneral von der Tann gave order to cease firing 
and retii'e by brigades on Artenay from the left wing. 

Fresh troops at this moment forced their way into 
the park of Coulmiers. Colonel Count von Ysenburg 
held the eastern outlets from the village, and led his 
troops in reciprocal support back to Gremigny in good 

It now proved of the greatest importance that the 


2nd Brigade had been able to maintain its position in 
front of this village, thus covering their further retreat. 

At noon, Greneral von Orff, on reaching Champs and 
Cheminiers, had found them occupied by Deplanque's 
brigade (French). First he silenced their artillery with 
his own, then he deployed his four battahons for action, 
with the 4th Cavalry Brigade on the right wing. 

Eeyan's cavahy ere long came up between these two 
villages, after they had given up their two hours' can- 
nonade on the Bavarian Cuirassiers and had been 
driven out of St. Sigismond by dismounted hussars. 
But this body of horse soon got away from the fire of 
Bavarian guns and moved off to the westward, it was 
said because they mistook Lipowski's volunteers, 
skirmishing at some distance to the north, for German 
supports. And when the Bavarian horse batteries 
opened fire on Champs, from the north-east, the French 
abandoned the place, at about two o'clock, in great 

General von Orff now brought the artillery up to 
within 500 paces of Cheminiers, and marched the in- 
fantry up between the guns. 

Admiral Jaureguiberry, however, by arriving in 
person, succeeded in rallying the wavering troops, and 
this attack failed. The French batteries soon com- 
pelled the Bavarian horse batteries to retire. 

When, at about three o'clock, Bourdillon's brigade 
and the reserve artihery of the Sixteenth Corps 
(French) also arrived at Champs, and news was brought 
of the state of affairs at Coulmiers, General von Orff 
refrained from all further attack, and directed all his 
efforts to maintaining his position as stoutly as possible 
in front of Gemigny. Unshaken by the fire of the 
numerous French batteries, the httle brigade repulsed 
their repeated attacks. 


Thus the 4th Brigade was enabled to retire from 
Coulmiers on Gremigny and St. Peravy, and the 1st, to 
the eastward, on Coinces unmolested by the enemy. 
The 2nd Brigade followed to Coinces, while the 3rd 
formed the rear-guard as far as St. Sigismond, where 
it halted and bivouacked. The cavahy covered the 
retreat on all sides. 

After a short rest the retreat of the main body was 
continued during the night, by very bad roads. Ar- 
tenay was reached by the morning. Orleans was 
evacuated, and the detachment left there rejoined its 
corps. The stores were conveyed by railway back to 
Toury; but one ammunition column, 150 prisoners, 
and the sick who could not be moved, feU into the 
hands of the French. 

Out of 20,000 men, against 70,000 French, the Ger- 
mans had lost 800 in killed and wounded ; the enemy's 
loss was nearly twice as gi-eat. 

From Artenay, on November 10th, the 2nd Brigade 
was entrusted with the security of the further march 
on Toury, where limited quarters might be occupied. 
Thither too came the 22nd Division from Chartres, and 
took up a position at Janville, alongside of the Bava- 
rian Corps. General von der Tann had extricated him- 
self from a difficult position with much skill and good 
fortune. There was no pui'suit. General d'Aurelle 
restricted himself to awaiting further reinforcements 
in a strong position before Orleans. 

The French were in more active preparation, how- 
ever, on the Upper Loir and the Eure. 

The Second Army Corps (German) had arrived 
before Paris on the 5th ; its 3rd Division was included 
in the investing line between the Seine and Marne ; the 
4th moved on to Longjumeau. 

As soon as the Landwehr Guard occupied the penin- 


sula of Argenteuil, a brigade of the Fourtli Corps was 
available for service on the north side of the capital. 
On the south, the 17th Division at Rambouillet, the 
22nd at Chartres, and the Bavarian Corps, which had 
retired on Ablis, with the 4th and 6th Cavalry Di- 
visions, were formed into distinct corps of the Third 
Army and placed under the command of the Grand 
Duke of Mecklenburg, with orders to advance first on 


On the 17th of November the 17th Division marched 
by Maintenon. On the left, a French detachment was 
driven back across the Blaise ; and when a few com- 
panies of marines, who attempted to block the high- 
road, had been disposed of, Oeneral von Tresckow 
marched into Dreux that evening. The struggle had 
cost the Grermans 50 men, the French 150 and 50 

Prince Frederick Charles, whose forces had now been 
assembled to face the enemy outside Orleans, expressed 
a wish that the Grand Duke's army should advance on 
Tours via Le Mans. The Grand Duke, therefore, 
marched on Nogent-le-Eotrou, which, being the central 
rendezvous of the French divisions, ^would probably 
be the scene of an obstinate resistance. 

After several skirmishes the Grand Duke's force 
reached this town, but when, on the 22nd, he prepared 
to storm it from three sides, it was found that the 
French had already evacuated it. At the same time 
orders arrived from head-quarters, instructing him to 
retire at once on Beaugency to join the right wing of 
the Second Army, which must immediately be rein- 
forced in view of the superior strength of the French. 
" The forces already concentrating before Orleans are 
to postpone all hostilities till this support arrives. 


The small opposition offered by the French on the Enre 
and Huisne shows that no serious danger threatens on 
that side ; the enemy in that quarter need only be kept 
under observation by cavahy." Even a day's rest was 
prohibited, and the march was to be conducted with 
the utmost speed. 

On the 23rd, the divisions had closed up on their 
leading troops, when the Grand Duke, on the 24th, 
moved on Chateaudun and Vendome ; but the Bavarian 
Corps only got as far as Vibraye, while the two Prus- 
sian divisions withdi'ew from the country about La- 
Perche, and the cavahy found the whole hne of the 
Loire already occupied. 

In fact, the French had sent up a brigade of the 
troops massed behind the woods of Marchenoir by rail- 
way to Vendome, expressly to protect the Government 
at Tours, while General de Sonis had advanced with 
the rest of the Seventeenth Corps on Brou. Here, on 
the 25th, his van met an ammunition column and 
pontoon train of the Bavarian Corps. At first only 
the 10th Cavalry Brigade could attack the French, but 
when, soon after, 2 companies and 8 guns had occupied 
the bridge over the Loir at Yevres, the wagons were 
got through Brou in safety, and the enemy could not 
continue its march till the cavalry had filed off. 

The Bavarian Corps had meanwhile advanced on 
Mondoubleau and St. Calais, not, to be sure, the short- 
est route to Beaugency, but still straight on Tours. 
The two divisions had only reached Vibraye and 

The appearance of a hostile force at Brou was deemed 
of sufficient importance to justify a detour by that 
place, postponing for the present the advance on the 
Loire. But when the 22nd arrived at Brou, on the 
26th, they found that the enemy had already retired 


during the night. The Government at Tours had 
ordered the whole of the Seventeenth Corps to march 
on Vendome for their protection. However, when the 
German cavahy had made their appearance at Cloyes 
and Freteval, General Sonis had supposed he could not 
advance any further along the Loir and made a detour 
by Marchenoir. But two night marches so upset the 
newly-recruited troops, that swarms of stragglers 
wandered about the neighborhood all day, and could 
only with difficulty be re-assembled at Beaugency. 

To obtain some unity of plan and action, the Grand 
Duke was now, by command from head-quarters, placed 
under Prince Frederick Charles's orders, and General 
von Stosch was dispatched to undertake the duties of 
Chief of the Staff to the army-section. This, by the 
Prince's orders, was to march on Janville with all 
speed, whither some troops of the Ninth Corps would 
be sent to meet it, by way of Orgeres. 

The Grand Duke therefore marched, on the 27th, 
with both divisions, on Bonneval, where he found a 
squadron of the 2nd Cavahy Division. The Bavarian 
Corps which, after finding Brou abandoned, had 
marched on Courtalain, proceeded to Chateaudun. 
Having thus accomplished a junction with the Second 
Army, the exhausted troops were allowed a day's rest 
on the 28th, in quarters on the Loir. 


Prince Frederick Charles had hastened the advance 
of his forces as much as possible, but they had met 
with several obstacles. The roads were broken up. 
National Guards and franctireurs were on the watch, 
and even the country-people had taken up arms ; how- 
ever, by November 14th, the Ninth Corps with the 


Cavalry Division had reached Fontainebleau and gone 
on to Angerville. The Third Corps was following on 
Pithiviers. Of the Tenth, the 40th Brigade was left at 
Chaumont, to maintain communications with the Four- 
teenth Corps ; the 36th reached Montargis and Beaune- 
la-Rolande on the 21st ; the two brigades following in 
rear had a sharp encounter on the 24th at Ladon and 
Maizieres. In this, 170 French were taken prisoners, 
who belonged to a corps which, as General von Werder 
had already reported, was proceeding under General 
Crouzat's command, from Chagny to Gien by railway. 
The order of battle was found on an officer who was 
taken prisoner. 

That while the Grand Duke's forces were marching 
up, the Second Army, but now fully concentrated, had 
been very near considerable forces of the enemy, was 
sufficiently ascertained by several reconnoissances. 

On the 24th some troops of the Ninth Corps were 
sent forward along the highroad. A few shells 
prompted the French to evacuate Artenay, pursued by 
the cavalry as far as Croix-Briquet. Early in the same 
day a detachment of aU arms from the Third Corps 
had advanced on NeuviUe-aux-Bois. Two detachments 
of the 38th Brigade had marched on Bois-Commun and 
Bellegarde, but all such attempts were met by very 
superior numbers of the enemy. 

It was ascertained that the French position before 
Orleans extended for eight miles (German), from the 
Conie to the Loing ; and the massing of troops, espe- 
cially on their flank, made it highly probable that they 
purposed advancing by Fontainebleau on the rear of 
the besieging army. StiU, this was not so evident as 
to justify Prince Frederick Charles in leaving the great 
highways from Orleans to Paris unguarded. However, 
to enable him to lend his left wing timely support 


in ease of need, he di'afted off the 5th Infantry and 
1st Cavahy Divisions to Boynes, to be near the Tenth 
Corps, which was weak, and the 6th Division occu- 
pied Pithiviers in their stead. Their quarters at Ba- 
zoches were assigned to the Ninth Corps. Finally, 
the Grand Duke was commanded to reach Toury by 
the 29th, with the head of his column, at least. These 
arrangements were all carried out in due course. 

Immediately after the success at Coulmiers the 
Army of the Loire seems only to have thought of 
defending itself against a counter-blow. It retu-ed on 
Orleans, threw up extensive earthworks, for which 
marine artillery was even brought up from Cherbourg, 
and awaited the arrival of further reinforcements. 
The Twentieth Corps, aheady spoken of, 40,000 strong, 
joined the Fifteenth, Sixteenth, and Seventeenth at 
Gien, with one division of the Eighteenth newly 
assembled at Nevers, and the volunteers under Cathe- 
lineau and Lipowski. 

Thus the French Army round Orleans numbered 
200,000; the Germans opposed to them at the time 
only 45,000 infantry. 

Gambetta ere long was urgent for renewed offensive 
operations. As General d'Aurelle raised objections to 
an advance by Pithiviers and Malesherbes, the Dic- 
tator himself took matters in hand. On the night of 
the 23rd he telegraphed orders from Tours that the 
Fifteenth Corps were at once to assemble at Chilleurs- 
aux-Bois and reach Pithiviers in the course of the 24th. 
The Twentieth were to march on Beaune-la-Rolande, 
and then both were to advance via Fontainebleau on 
Paris. The General pointed out that, according to his 
estimate, 80,000 Germans must be encountered in an 
open country, and that it would be wiser to await their 
attack in an intrenched position. No help, indeed, 


would thus be afforded to the besieged capital, and 
even the strengthening of the right wing must be 
postponed ; while it was the advance of the Eighteenth 
and Twentieth Corps on the 24th which led to the 
fight already mentioned at Ladon and Maizieres. 

In consequence of information received from Tours 
on the 26th, General Crouzat ordered the advance, on 
the 28th, of the two corps he commanded — the Eight- 
eenth on Juranville du-ect, the Twentieth to the left 
by Bois-Commun — for a general attack on Beaune-la- 
Eolande. The Fifteenth Corps was moved up for 
support to Chambon, and Cathelineau's volunteers 
to Courcelles. 

As we have seen, on that very day the Grrand Duke's 
forces had come up on the extreme right of the Second 
German Army. On the left, the 38th Brigade of the 
Tenth Corps was at Beaune, the 39th at Les-Cotelles ; 
the 37th, with the corps artillery, had advanced to 


(November 28th.) 

The French attack on November 28th failed in its 
dual delivery, and the two actions had little influence 
on each other. On the right, the head of the Eight- 
eenth Corps met the outposts of the 39th Brigade at 
an early hour, close to Juranville and Lorcy. After 
a stout resistance, they were driven in by about nine 
o'clock on Les-Cotelles and beyond the railway em- 
bankment at Corbeilles, where they took possession of 
the park. 

The French could now deploy on the open country 

before Juranville, and following up the Germans with 

strong hues of tirailleurs marching straight before 

them, they got into Corbeilles and drove the invaders 



out to the north aud west. In front, meanwhile, a 
reinforcement from the reserve at Marcilly had reached 
Les-Cotelles, and Colonel von Yalentini had on his side 
attacked Juranville with the 56th Regiment. The 
artillery could give no assistance. The French made 
an obstinate resistance, and not till noon did they 
begin to retreat, though the fighting still continued 
round some solitary houses. But when strong col- 
umns came up from Maizieres and Corbeilles, the Ger- 
mans were compelled to abandon the conquered vil- 
lage, but they carried off: 300 prisoners. 

By two o'clock the greater portion of the French 
Corps deployed by Juranville to attack the position 
held by the 39th Brigade, who had retired on Long- 
Cour. But not having prepared their attack by artil- 
lery fire, it came to nothing under that of five Prus- 
sian batteries. 

The first attack on Les-Cotelles was also repulsed, 
but being repeated an hour later, the Germans had to 
abandon the position, and fifty men were taken pris- 
oners. A gun, which had lost seven of its gunners, 
had sunk so deep in the muddy ground that the few 
men left could not drag it out. 

StiU, the Eighteenth French Corps made no further 
way, but as dusk came on, was satisfied with an inef- 
fective cannonade, and finally the 39th Brigade was 
able to maintain its position abreast of Beaune. 

On the left wing of the French line of battle the 
attack had also from the first been of a general charac- 
ter, the 2nd Division of the Twentieth Corps having 
advanced on Beaune, and the First on Batilly. But 
it was near noon before the arrival of another portion 
of the 3rd Division in reserve enabled them to drive in 
the German advanced posts from Bois-de-la-Leu to the 
cross-roads north-west of Beaune. The 38th Brigade, 


too, soon found itseK under fire from the enemy's guns, 
now following it up from Pierre-Percee on the north. 

The retreat had to be continued along the Roman 
road, by which a gun, of which the men and horses 
had for the most part perished, fell into the enemy's 
hands. About the same time the 2nd French Division 
ascended the heights to the east of Beaune, and further 
back Colonel von Cranach was enabled, first to get in 
hand the 57th Regiment near La-Rue-Boussier, their 
retreat being covered by the batteries that were hurry- 
ing up from Marcilly, and then to prevent the enemy 
from returning to the charge. These entirely ceased 
to advance any further, for they were suddenly 
threatened on their own flank by the 1st Division of 
the Prussian cavalry retiring from Boynes, and were 
under fire of the horse batteries. 

Meanwhile the 16th Regiment found itself com- 
pletely isolated in Beaune and shut in on three sides 
by the enemy. 

The town, which was surrounded by the remains of 
a high wall, and the churchyard were, as far as pos- 
sible, prepared for defence. The French, after being 
driven back by the first attack of heavy fire, began 
bombarding the town. Their shells burst through the 
walls of the churchyard and set a few buildings on fire, 
but even then every attempt at storming was stead- 
fastly repulsed. 

In the meantime, Greneral von Woyna had supplied 
his batteries with fresh ammunition, and while occupy- 
ing Romainville on the right, he took up a position 
opposite the copse of Pierre-Percee, so that by three 
o'clock he was able to lead these companies up to the 
east of Beaune. 

About this time assistance came with the arrival of 
the Third Army Corps. While the 6th Division were 


still pressing on towards Pithiviers, the 5th had already 
that morning rallied beyond that place. The first 
news from Beaune had sounded so far from alarming, 
that the corps artillery retired to their quarters. 
Nevertheless, in consequence of the increasing boom- 
ing of guns and a later announcement of a serious 
encounter. General von Alvensleben gave the word for 
the corps to advance; General von Stiilpnagel had 
already spontaneously set out with the 5th Division. 
The 6th followed, and dispatched a battalion to observe 
towards Com'celles ; but Cathelineau's body of volun- 
teers remained inactive. 

Part of the 52nd Regiment, which was marching at 
the head of the column, turned off to the right, and, 
supported by artillery, opened fire about 4.30 on Ar- 
conviUe and Batilly. Another part penetrated into 
Bois-de-la-Leu and the copse near La Pierre-Percee, 
where they recaptured the gun they had lost there 
before. Four batteries took up their position on the 
road from Pithiviers, behind Fosse-des-Pres, and fired 
on the French, who still stood firm on the west side of 
Beaune ; but they were by this means entirely dis- 
persed and pursued by the 12th Regiment as far as 

After dark the Tenth Corps encamped near Long- 
Coui', Beaune, and Batilly, and the 5th Division in 
their rear; the 6th had remained at Boynes, where 
the 1st Division of cavalry also found accommoda- 

General von Voigts-Rhetz had held his ground 
against the enemy in the battle of Beaune-la-Rolande, 
with 11,000 men against 60,000, and with three bri- 
gades against six divisions, until help reached him 
towards evening. This action cost the Germans 900 
and the French 1300 men in killed and wounded ; but 


1800 unwounded prisoners fell into the hands of the 

By the evening the French Twentieth Corps had 
retreated as far as Bois-Commun and Bellegarde ; the 
Eighteenth, on the contrary, had taken up their posi- 
tion near Vernonille and Juranville, in fact, directly in 
front of the Tenth Grerman Corps, on the ground they 
had gained from them. They were justified in expect- 
ing that the fighting would recommence on the mor- 

Prince Frederick Charles, therefore, directed the 
Tenth and Third Corps to assemble fully prepared on 
the 29th. The Ninth received orders to advance with 
two brigades towards Boynes and Bazoches, and the 
remaining troops were to follow as soon as the Grand 
Duke's contingent should have reached the road to 

In the course of the day his advanced guard, the 4th 
Division of cavalry, reached Toury, his infantry 
arrived at Allaines and Orgeres. The 6th Division of 
cavalry, who were marching on the right flank, met 
with their first opposition at Tournoisis. 

Meanwhile Greneral Crouzat had been warned from 
Tours, by a report which reached him on the evening 
of the 28th, to prepare to meet another attack, and he 
thereupon recalled his right wing. On the 30th both 
corps made a move to the left, in order to be in the 
proximity of the Fifteenth. For the purpose of dis- 
sembling this lateral movement, some companies went 
in a northerly direction and met reconnoitring parties 
of the German Tenth and Third Corps, with whom 
skirmishes took place at Maizieres, St. Loup, and Mont 
Barrois; however, soon after, an advance of the left 
wing of the French Army was observed. 

The French Government at Tours had received news 


from Paris that General Ducrot would attempt, on the 
29th, to break through the Grerman investing lines 
with 100,000 men and 400 guns, and endeavor to con- 
nect with the Array of the Loire in a southerly direc- 
tion. The balloon that had carried this dispatch had 
descended in Norway, from whence the communica- 
tion had been forwarded. It was concluded from this 
that the General was already vigorously engaged, and 
that help must be no longer delayed. By Gambetta's 
desire, M. Freycinet submitted to the council of war, 
caUed by General d'Aurelle, a plan for the advance of 
the whole army on Pithiviers. In the event of a refusal, 
he had with him a decree to supplant the Commander- 

It was decided in the first place to execute a wheel 
to the right with the left wing, Chilleurs-aux-Bois 
forming the pivot of the movement. Having by this 
means taken up a position facing Pithiviers, the corps 
on the right wing, which was now on the same line, 
had to await orders to advance. The Twenty-first 
Corps were to be led towards Vendome as a protection 
to the left flank. 


Consequently, on the 1st of December the Sixteenth 
Corps moved forward in the direction of the railway 
at Orgeres ; the Seventeenth followed as far as Patay 
and St. Peravy. 

Opposite to these, on the right wing of the Second 
German Army, the 17th Division of the Grand Duke's 
Corps had arrived at Bazoches, the 22nd at Toury, and 
the Bavarian Corps in the neighborhood of Orgeres. 
Thus the French first met the Bavarians. Attacked 
in front by a far superior force, and threatened by 


Michel's division of cavalry in the flank, the 1st Bava- 
rian Brigade were forced to retreat at three o'clock 
towards Villepion. The 2nd Brigade, which approached 
from Orgeres, halted to the west of Nonneville, and 
the 4th marched up between Villepion and Faverolles, 
where the Bavarians, in spite of heavy losses, succeeded 
in holding their own for a long time. On the right 
wing, Prince Leopold of Bavaria, with four guns of his 
battery which could still do good service, brought the 
enemy's advance to a standstill, but under the personal 
leadership of Admiral Jaureguiberry the French fought 
their way into Villepion. As night drew on, and the 
want of ammunition was becoming serious, the 1st 
Bavarian Brigade went to Loigny ; the 2nd, however, 
got back to Orgeres by five o'clock, where the third 
arrived in the evening, whilst the 4th joined company 
at Loigny. 

The engagement cost both sides about 1000 men, 
and only the foremost of the Bavarian divisions had 
been forced back for a short distance. 

This result, and the news from Paris, aroused in 
Tours fresh hopes of victory. As will be seen further 
on, a sortie had been successfully effected out of Paris 
through the investing hues, and the village of Epinay 
had been held for a short time. Thereupon it was 
concluded that this was the village of the same name 
which lay to the south near Longjumeau, and that as 
soon as the Ai-my of Orleans should effect a junction 
with that from Paris there would be scarcely any fur- 
ther obstacle. Cathelineau's Volunteer Corps was 
directed at once to guard the forest of Fontainebleau, 
and the ensuing annihilation of the Germans was an- 
nounced to the country. 

The army from Orleans, however, had barely gained 
half a day's march in the direction of Paris, and the 


right wheel of the left wing had to be continued. The 
Sixteenth Corps was to try and reach the line between 
Allaines and Tomy by the 2nd of December; the 
Seventeenth were to follow, and the Fifteenth, march- 
ing from Chilleurs past Artenay, were to join the right. 
The Grand Duke, on hearing the report of the great 
force with which the enemy was approaching, deter- 
mined to march to meet them with the whole con- 
tingent. The requisite orders were issued at eight 
o'clock to the forces, who were already standing pre- 
pared in camp. The Bavarian Corps was directed to 
take up a position near Loigny, with its left wing at 
Chateau-Groury ; the 17th Division to march directly 
from Sautilly to Lumeau, and the 22nd from Tivernon 
to Baigneaux. The cavahy had to undertake the 
protection of both wings. 


(December 2nd.) 

The Bavarian Corps was still engaged in advancing 
from Maladerie when the French ascended the heights 
to the west of Loigny. The 1st Division therefore 
advanced via Villeprevost, and the 2;id occupied the 
line between Beauvilliers and Goury. 

General Chanzy had set out from Terminiers at eight 
o'clock, with the 2nd and 3rd Divisions, for Loigny and 
Lumeau. The first followed in reserve, and Michel's 
division of cavalry covered the left flank. In spite of 
the hot fire of the defenders, the 2nd Division had by 
nine o'clock advanced close upon Beauvilliers, but then 
they had to fall back before the onset of the Bavarians, 
who now, on their side, attacked Loigny. When, 
however, at 10.30 the whole French Corps advanced 
deployed on a large front from Nonneville to Neuvil- 


liers, they had to retreat with great losses. They niet, 
nevertheless, with a warm reception at Beauvilliers, 
where the firing of the artillery of the German corps 
put a stop to the enemy's movements. 

The battle surged backwards and forwards until, at 
11.30, the 2nd Bavarian Brigade joined in the fray. 
The 4th Division of cavalry charged the left wing of 
the French, and Michel's division fell back on the 
Seventeenth Corps. This caused numerous prisoners 
to be taken by the German troopers. In the meantime 
the Bavarian infantry had marched to Ferme-Morale, 
but found themselves under such destructive fire that 
they were forced to turn back. Thereupon the horse 
batteries on the flank enfiladed the enemy's wing with 
such effect, even firing the farm, that General von Orff 
found himself able to take possession of it. 

At Beauvilliers, meanwhile, the 2nd Division had 
only with great difficulty resisted the vigorous on- 
slaughts of the French, whose riflemen had already 
approached so close that the batteries were compelled 
to retire. But the success of the right wing soon 
spread to the left. Charging from Beauvilliers, as well 
as from Chateau-Goury, the Bavarians drove Jauregui- 
berry's division back to Loigny. 

Shortly after noon the firing of the French became 
again remarkably energetic, especially against Chateau- 
Goury. The battalions on the left wing of the Bava- 
rians were forced back upon the park. 

During these events the two Prussian divisions had 
continued their advance. The artillery of the 17th 
pressed on in order to engage the enemy, while the 
infantry reached Lumeau in time to prevent its occu- 
pation by the opposing forces. Dense masses of French 
infantry fought their way up quite close to the place, 
but they were finally driven back by a well-directed 


fire of musketry and shell; whereupon the division 
attacked the right flank of the French. 

The 22nd Division also marched past Baigneaux 
towards Anneux, and joined in the pursuit of the re- 
treating enemy. A number of prisoners and a battery 
were taken from the French, who, after a vain attempt 
to make another firm stand near Neuvilliers, at last 
fled towards Terminiers in utter disorder. 

After this conclusion of the fighting at Lumeau, 
Greneral von Tresckow was able to go to the assistance 
of the left wing of the Bavarians, which was hard 
pressed. Under cover of the fire of eight batteries, the 
33rd Brigade moved against the flank of the French 
forces, which were now making a fierce attack on 
Chateau-Goury. Being thus taken by surprise, they 
retired upon Loigny. Here, too, the Mecklenburg 
battalions, together with the Bavarians, cut their way 
through, and it was only in the churchyard, which was 
situated on a hill at the west end of the village, that 
an obstinate resistance was made for some time longer. 
The French, as they retired on Villepion, suffered 
from a destructive fire from eighty guns posted close 
together at Loigny. 

At 2.30 General von der Tann caused the whole of 
his 1st Division, after they had been provided with 
fresh ammunition, to advance once more ; this move- 
ment, however, was brought to a standstill by the fire 
of the enemy. 

Michel's division also moved up to oppose the ad- 
vance of the cavalry on the right wing, but turned 
back as soon as it came within range of the horse bat- 

Where his right wing was exposed. General Chanzy 
had sent a few battalions to take up a forward position 
near Terre-noire. Behiiid them a brigade of the Seveji- 


teenth Corps had arrived at Faverolles, and to the right 
of Villepion the Papal Zouaves advanced against Vil- 

Greneral von Tresckow now sent forward his last 
reserves. Two battalions of the 75th Regiment broke 
through the position at the first charge, and in con- 
junction with all the troops engaged, drove back the 
French column to Villepion. 

The approach of darkness brought the fighting here 
to a close. 

While the French Sixteenth Corps had been fighting 
alone with great persistence all day, the Fifteenth, 
according to orders, had advanced past Artenay, on 
the high-road to Paris. There, they were only opposed 
by the 3rd Brigade of German cavalry. This was 
attacked by midday, near Dambron, by the French 3rd 
Division, which formed the left flanking column, while 
the other two divisions kept much further to the right. 

As soon, therefore, as this information from the 
cavalry reached General von Wittich, he moved off 
with the whole of the 22nd Division from Anneux, in 
the direction of Poupry. The head of the column 
succeeded in reaching the place at the double, and in 
driving back the enemy, who had already broken in 
there and in the belts of forest to the north. Six bat- 
teries then came into position, resting to the south on 
Morale. The French deployed between Dambron and 
Autroches, and carried on a persistent fire while the 
remaining divisions came up. After an encounter 
with the troops from Poupry, they attacked with their 
right wing the smaU copses which lay near, in front of 
the forest-land to the north, placed the artillery in the 
gaps, and began at three o'clock an attack from thence. 
This, however, came to grief under the fire of grape- 
shot of the defenders, and of a threatened charge by 


the 3rd Brigade of cavalry, which General von Colomb 
had set in motion in the open country to the west of 
Dambron. In the same way an attack on Morale, by 
the left wing from Autroches, miscarried. But, at 
four o'clock, the French advanced along the whole line, 
preceded by a swarm of tirailleurs. They were repulsed 
at Poupry, and likewise at Morale, at which latter place 
two companies of sappers joined in the fight ; on the 
other hand, their right wing broke through into the 
forest, and compelled the Germans to retreat. But the 
Prussian battahons, who were in reserve, advanced 
from Poupry, and drove the enemy back into the 
scrub, where they still had to defend themselves against 
an attack by the cavalry. 

The fighting was now stopped by the approach of 
night. The 22nd Division remained under arms till 
eleven o'clock in the position which they had seized, 
and then went back to Anneux. The 3rd Division of 
cavalry went for the night to Baigneaux. The 17th 
Division remained in position near Lumeau, having 
Loigny to their front, which they occupied in concert 
with the Bavarians, who extended further to the right 
as far as Orgeres. 

The day had cost the French 4000 killed and 
wounded, and the Germans fully as many ; but 2500 
unwounded prisoners, eight guns, one mitrailleuse, and 
a standard belonging to the enemy were left in their 

On the French side, the Fifteenth Corps returned to 
Artenay, and there received orders to occupy the posi- 
tion previously taken up on the skirt of the wood, 
with a division to be stationed there for its defence. 

Thus the intended advance of the left wing of the 
Army of Orleans failed. The Sixteenth Corps, lacking 
the support of the Seventeenth, had indeed lost ground, 


but kept its place in the foremost line at Villepion, 
FaveroUes, and Terminiers. It was therefore left to 
G-eneral Chanzy to make one more attack on the right 
wing of the Germans on the following day. 

This consisted of five corps, and stood close in front 
of the enemy ; further reinforcements could not for the 
present be given, but the Commander-in-chief thought 
that the moment had now come to put an end to the 
incessant danger to the investing lines from the south. 

On the 2nd, at midday, the order came from head- 
quarters for all the forces to attack Orleans, and in the 
course of that day Prince Frederick Charles gave the 
requisite instructions to this end. 

It is here necessary to go back a little in order to see 
how circumstances developed events during November 
at various other points. 




The report, which became known on the 14th 
November, of the happy result of the action at Coul- 
miers on the 9th, had raised new hopes in Paris. No 
one any longer doubted that the enemy would find it 
necessary to send large forces in that direction, which 
would considerably weaken the investing hues, particu- 
larly in the south. 

In order to assist the hoped-for rehef by independent 
action when the time came, three armies were formed 
out of the garrison of Paris. 

The first, under General Clement Thomas, consisted 
of 226 battalions of the National Guard, in round 
numbers 130,000 men. They were to defend the city 
walls and maintain peace in the city. The second, 
under General Ducrot, included the most trusty 
elements, particularly the troops which had hitherto 
constituted the Thirteenth and the Fourteenth Corps. 
This army was divided into three corps and one di- 
vision of cavalry, consisting of fully 100,000 men and 
more than 300 guns. They were intended for active 
service in the field, and for making sorties on the in- 
vesting forces. The third army, under General Vinoy, 
70,000 strong, consisted of six regiments of the Garde 
Mobile, and one division of cavalry ; and Maud'huy's 
infantry division was also distributed among them. 
They were to support the more important sorties by 
making feints against the foremost besieging Unes. 


Besides these, 80,000 of the Garde Mobile were in the 
forts, and 35,000 men at St. Denis under Admiral de la 

The available fighting power consequently amounted 
to above 400,000 men. 

The garrison exhibited a remarkable activity in 
small night engagements. The heavy guns in the place 
would carry as far as Choisy-le-Roi, and even to 
Beauregard, near Versailles. They worked hard in the 
trenches on the peninsula of Gennevilliers and con- 
structed a military bridge. Several things showed 
that the French intended to make an attempt on the 
west. But since, as long as the Second Army was 
still incomplete, the greatest danger threatened the 
Germans from the south, their Commander-in-chief, as 
already mentioned, kept the Second Corps behind the 
Yvette from Villeneuve to Saclay. On the north of 
Paris the corps of Guards spread themselves out to 
the left towards Aulnay, the Twelfth crossed to the 
south bank of the Marne, and the Wiirtemberg Di- 
vision moved to the position left vacant by the Second 
Corps between the Marne and the Seine. 

On November 18th the summons came to Paris from 
Tours to effect a prompt connection with the Army of 
the Loire, somewhat prematurely, as we know, since 
that army was still deliberating about merely defensive 

In Paris, arrangements were, indeed, being made for 
a great sortie. But as the earlier attacks on the centre 
of the Sixth Corps had shown that this had been con- 
siderably strengthened by fortifications at Thiais and 
Chevilly, it was decided to reach the uplands east of 
Joinville and from thence to turn off to the south. 
The attention of the Germans was to be diverted by 
means of attacks in the opposite direction. 


On the 18tli, the day on which the Army of Orleans 
had vainly endeavored to press on towards Beaune-la- 
Eolande, General Ducrot assembled the Second Paris 
Army in the neighborhood of Vincennes, and the Third, 
with Hugues's division, occupied Mont-A^Ton on the 
following day. As, however, the construction of 
bridges at Champigny and Bry was not yet completed, 
battle was postponed till the 30th ; but it was left to 
the leaders of the minor engagements to carry them 
into effect simultaneously or separately. Accordingly, 
Maud'huy's division collected during the night of the 
29th behind the redoubt at Hautes-Bruyeres, and 
marched towards L'Hay before daybreak. 

Warned by the heavy firing from the southern forts, 
General von Tlimpling had ordered the 12th Division 
to get under arms early in their positions, and the 11th 
to assemble at Fresnes. 

The French, favored by the darkness, made their 
way through the vineyards into L'Hay ; yet they were 
successfully driven back by the Germans with the 
bayonet and clubbed arms. 

After continuing the firing for some time, the French 
renewed their onslaught at 8.30, but without success ; 
and then the defenders, reinforced from the reserve, 
replied with a vigorous charge. At"- ten o'clock the 
enemy retreated to Villejuif. 

Admiral Pothuau had at the same time advanced 
up the Seine with the Marine Infantry and the Na- 
tional Guard. A vedette at Gare-aux-Boeufs was sur- 
prised and taken prisoner, Choisy-le-Roi was fired upon 
by field-guns, artillery, and some gun-boats, which 
appeared on the Seine. Meanwhile, as the Grenadiers 
of the 10th Regiment (German) were on the point of 
making an attack on their side, General Vinoy stopped 
the fighting. 


This demonstration cost the French 1000 men and 
300 uninjured prisoners; the Prussians, who were 
under cover, lost only 140 men. Still, the forts kept 
up fire till midday, and then the enemy were allowed 
a short truce, in order to carry away their numerous 

Against the centre of the Fifth Corps also a strong 
force of infantry had advanced at eight o'clock, upon 
Garches and Malmaison, and had driven in part of the 
outposts. But they soon met with opposition from 
the battahons, and at noon retreated into Valerien. 


(30th November and 2nd December.) 

On the 30th November the Second Paris Army 
opened the battle which was to decide the fate of the 

To prevent the concentration of the Germans towards 
the real attack, the investing lines were engaged against 
sorties at almost every point. 

General Ducrot ordered SusbieUe's division of his 
Second Corps to march to the south. These had 
already reached Rosny by three o'clock in the morning, 
crossed over the Marne at Creteil by a flying bridge, 
and from thence, briskly supported by the neighboring 
forts, opened fire on the Wiirtemberg Division, whose 
outposts had been pushed forward as far as Bonneuil 
and Mesly. 

General von Obernitz had to maintain an extended 
position, his 1st Division, being near ViUiers, on the 
peninsula of Joinville, his 2nd at Sucy-en-Brie, and his 
3rd at Brevannes. The division had been placed under 
the General in command of the Army of the Meuse, 
who had received orders from Versailles to increase 



his strength considerably by the addition of the Twelfth 
Corps, or even of some troops of the Corps of Guards. 

In consequence of the enemy's enormous numbers 
on Mont-Avron, the Saxon Corps believed themselves 
immediately threatened on the right bank of the Marne, 
and requested to be immediately transferred to the left ; 
but the Crown Prince of Saxony gave orders that the 
whole of the 24th Division should assemble there on 
the following day. 

Thus, for the present, no help could be rendered to 
the Wiirtembergers but by means of the wing of the 
Second Corps, which was posted at Villeneuve, instead 
of the 7th Brigade of infantry, who were sent near 
Brevannes to Valenton. 

The fire of three German batteries, on their way to 
that town, first brought the advance of the French 
Division to a stand. The attempt of the Wiirtem- 
bergers to take Mont-Mesly completely failed at the 
outset ; but after the artillery was brought into play 
they succeeded in taking the hill by twelve o'clock, and 
the Prussian battalions made their way into Mesly. 
The Wiirtemberg troopers attacked the enemy's retreat- 
ing guns with great success. At 1.30 the re-opening 
of the fire from the forts announced, the end of this 
sortie. It cost the Germans 350 men, and the French 

During this time the centre of the Sixth Corps had 
not even been disturbed. General Vinoy, who had not 
been informed of the advance of Susbielle's division, 
as soon as its retreat was noticed, opened a rapid fire 
on Ivry and the adjoining works, which was augmented 
by gun-boats on the Seine, and armor-plated batteries 
on the railway. Then Admiral Pothuau advanced 
against Choisy-le-Roi and Thiais. He once more set 
his marines to diive out the Prussian outposts from 


Gare-aux-Boeufs. But the further advance failed, and 
General Vinoy recalled his troops, after which the 
fighting at Mesly ceased, and only the thunder of 
artillery continued till five o'clock. 

After a preliminary cannonade from Valerien the 
Garde Mobile advanced against the centre of the Fifth 
Corps as early as seven o'clock. They were, however, 
repulsed by the outposts, and supports who were in 
readiness, and retired at eleven o'clock. 

Further towards the north of Paris a sharp skirmish 
took place. At midday the Fort de la Briche, sup- 
ported by field-guns and a floating battery, opened a 
heavy fire on the low-lying village of Epinay, on the 
right bank of the Seine. At two o'clock Haurion's 
brigade advanced, two companies of marines pressed 
into this place along the bank of the river, and drove 
out the garrison, which consisted of only one com- 
pany* A second also retii-ed from the base of the for- 
tifications in a northerly direction towards Ormesson. 
At three o'clock in the afternoon, the village, with a 
few obstinately defended farms on the further side of 
the mill-race, fell into the hands of the French. 

Meanwhile the troops of the Fourth Army Corps 
had assembled, and estabhshed seven batteries on the 
heights above. The infantry rushed into the village 
from all sides with loud cheers, and after a fierce 
street-fight recovered possession of the lost posts ; and 
it was this transitory victory that was to raise such 
great hopes in Tours. The losses on both sides 
amounted to 300 men. 

These were all mere feints to facilitate the chief 
action; and whilst the investing troops were thus 
engaged and attracted to various points, two corps of 
the French Second Army at 6.30 in the morning 
crossed the bridges at Joinville and Nogent which had 


been completed during the night. After repulsing the 
German outposts they both deployed, and completely 
covered the peninsula between Champigny and Bry. 
The Third Corps had taken the road along the north 
bank of the Marne, towards Neuilly, to cross the river 
there, thus at the same time threatening the position 
of the Saxon Corps, who therefore detained the 47th 
Brigade on the right bank, though it had been sent to 
the assistance of the Wiirtembergers. Consequently 
only two Grerman brigades, spread over three-quarters 
of a mile, were left to face the two French corps 
on the left bank, with the Saxon 48th at Noisy, and 
the Wiirtemberg 1st between Villiers and Chenne- 

At ten o'clock Maussion's division advanced towards 
the Park of Villiers. Supported by the Saxon divis- 
ions from Noisy, the Wiirtembergers repulsed a first 
attack, but in following it up met with heavy losses. 
The French batteries of two divisions and those of the 
Artillery Reserve formed line in front of the park. 
On their right wing Faron's division, which had met 
with no slight losses, occupied Champigny, and was 
drawn up for defence in front of this position. 

General Ducrot's original idea had^ been to prolong 
the engagement on the peninsula until he could be 
joined at Noisy by his Third Corps. But as news 
arrived that at eleven o'clock they were still beyond 
the Marne, he ordered a general attack by the two 
other corps to commence at once. 

On the left their advance was checked for a consid- 
erable time by the German batteries between Noisy 
and Villiers, and when Colonel von Abendroth ad- 
vanced with six companies of the 48th Brigade from 
both those places to attack in force, the French retired 
to the vineyards on the western slope of the plateau, 


even leaving two guns, which, however, the Saxons 
could not take away for want of horses. 

In the centre Berthaut's division tried to pass south 
of ViUiers, but, under a fire from five batteries sta- 
tioned there and at Cornilly, their ranks were so much 
thinned that they fell back before the advance of a 
Saxon battalion. 

On the right wing, the guns which had been brought 
up for the defence of Champigny had at last been 
compelled by the Grerman artillery to withdi*aw, and 
had again sought cover further north, near the lime- 
kilns. A division of infantry had advanced along the 
river to Maison-Blanche, but in the meantime the 2nd 
Wiirtemberg Brigade, although itself attacked at Sucy, 
had dispatched two companies and a battery to Chen- 
nevieres as reinforcements. Moving forward from 
the Hunting-lodge, the Wiirtembergers took 200 French 
prisoners at Maison-Blanche; though, on the other 
hand, the attempt to scale the heights before Cham- 
pigny with the companies assembled at Cornilly failed 
with heavy losses. However, on the renewal of the 
flank attack from the Hunting-lodge, Faron's division, 
which had already been seriously shaken, was obliged 
to retreat to Champigny. 

General Ducrot decided to be content, for that day, 
with having established a firm footing on the left bank 
of the Marne, and he brought up sixteen batteries to a 
position in his front, to secure the ground he had 
gained. On the following day the attack was to be 
renewed by all three corps. 

The Germans, on their part, had to congratulate 
themselves on having held firm against superior num- 
bers. And so in the afternoon the fighting gradually 
died away, until it broke out again in the north. 

The French Third Corps, marching up the right 


bank of the Marne, had left a strong force in Neuilly, 
and had diiven back the outpost of the Saxon 23rd 
Brigade. Under cover of six batteries the construc- 
tion of two miUtary bridges below Neuilly was begun 
at ten o'clock, and finished by noon. Just at this time 
it happened, as we have seen, that the French on the 
plateau were retiring, so the passage did not take place 
until two o'clock in the afternoon. Bellemare's divis- 
ion marched along the valley to Bry, where they joined 
the left wing of the Third Corps. A regiment of 
Zouaves, trying to ascend the heights from that side, 
lost half its men and all its officers. Notwithstanding 
this, Greneral Ducrot decided to bring his increased rein- 
forcements to the renewal of the attack on Villiers. 

Reinforced by four battalions, the divisions advanced 
in this direction, although the artillery had not suc- 
ceeded in battering down the park wall; repeated 
onslaughts of infantry were repulsed, and finally the 
French retreated into the valley. Simultaneously 
with this, Berthaut's division failed in an attack on 
the railway and Faron's in one on the Hunting-lodge. 
Not till darkness had set in did the firing cease on 
both sides. 

In the direction in which the French Third Corps 
had been fighting in the morning, the Crown Prince 
of Saxony had collected the 23rd Division near Chelles ; 
but as soon as the enemy's true plans could be 
known, he sent off a detachment of the 47th Brigade 
and part of the artillery corps to the threatened posi- 
tion held by the Wiirtembergers. In the same way 
General von Obernitz, as soon as the fighting at Mesly 
was over, dispatched three battalions to the Hunting- 
lodge. At night orders came from head-quarters for 
the Second and Sixth Corps to send reinforcements to 
the position where the investing lines were in danger 


and the 7tli and 21st Brigades arrived at Sucy on the 
following day, the 1st of December. 

The attempt on the part of the French to break 
through without help from outside was already con- 
sidered as fairly hopeless, and it was only the fear of 
popular indignation which caused the Third Army to 
remain any longer on the left bank of the Marne. In- 
stead of attacking, the French began to intrench them- 
selves, and in order to clear the battle-field a truce 
was arranged. The thundering of the artillery of 
Mont-Avron must serve for the present to keep the 
Parisians in a good humor. The Germans also worked 
at strengthening their positions, but suffering from 
the sudden and extreme cold, they withdrew at least 
part of their troops to quarters further to the rear. 

The command of the whole of the German Army 
between the Marne and the Seine was handed over to 
General von Fransecky. The Commander-in-chief of 
the Army of the Meuse had already arranged that 
Prince George, with all the available troops of the 
Twelfth Corps, should take Bry and Champigny by 
surprise in the early morning. 

With this object, on the morning of the 2nd of 
December, the 24th Division assembled at Noisy, the 
1st Wiirtemberg Brigade at Villiers, and the 7th Prus- 
sian at the Hunting-lodge. 

The foremost battalion of the Saxon Division drove 
back the enemy's outposts by an unexpected rush, 
took 100 prisoners, and after carrying a barricade, en- 
tered Bry. Here the fighting took the form of fierce 
action round the houses, in which the 2nd Battalion 
of the 107th Eegiment lost nearly all its ofiicers. Nev- 
ertheless, they held their ground, in spite of the heavy 
fire from the forts in the northern parts of the village. 

The Wiirtembergers also seized Champigny, but 


soon met with fierce resistance from the enemy, who 
were sheltered in the buildings. Bois-de-la-Lande, 
previously occupied, had to be abandoned, and Gen- 
eral Ducrot himself determined to attack. The strong 
lines of artillery on his front came into action at about 
nine o'clock, and two divisions deployed behind them. 

Meanwhile, the battalion of fusiliers of Colberg's 
Regiment marched once more from the Hunting-lodge 
on Bois-de-la-Lande, and took possession of it at the 
first onslaught. The French, who were firing steadily 
from the railway embankments, di'ove back the Pom- 
eranians with clubbed rifles and at the point of the 
bayonet. A brisk fight was carried on at the same 
time near the lime-pits, where at noon 160 French laid 
down their arms. Whilst the 6th Wiirtemberger and 
the 9th Prussian batteries were by degrees brought 
into action against Champigny, General Hartmann 
succeeded in getting as far as the Bry road. As, how- 
ever, the batteries were prevented by their own troops 
from firing, and were suffering, too, from the projec- 
tiles from the forts, they were withdrawn behind the 
slope of the valley near the Hunting-lodge. At two 
o'clock the 1st Wiirtemberg and the 7th Prussian Bri- 
gades had established themselves in the line from the 
churchyard of Champigny to Bois-de^a-Lande. 

Meanwhile, the French divisions, under Bellemare 
and Susbielle, had reached the battle-field from the 
right bank of the Marne. The two (German) battalions 
at Bry, having already lost thirty-six officers and 638 
men, were compelled on the approach of the enemy in 
very superior force to evacuate the village and retire 
on Noisy, but not without taking 300 prisoners with 
them. The remainder of the Saxon forces held Vil- 
liers, where the batteries still available also took up a 


When, at two o'clock, the French were leading a 
strong body of artillery to this point, four batteries of 
the Second Corps rushed out of the hollow near the 
Hunting-lodge at full gallop, and opened fire at 2000 
paces on their flank. In scarcely ten minutes the 
French batteries retired and the Prussians went back 
to their sheltered position. Several of the enemy's 
battalions which, at about three o'clock, attempted 
a renewed assault on Villiers, were repulsed with less 
difficulty, and at five o'clock the fighting ceased. Only 
the French kept up a fire of field and fortress artillery 
until after dark. 

General Ducrot had received information, in the 
course of the day, that the Army of the Loire was 
marching on Fontainebleau, and he therefore deter- 
mined to maintain, if possible, his position outside 

During the night of the 3rd December, provisions 
had been procured, also additional teams and ammu- 
nition for the batteries; but the advance of support 
from without was by no means confirmed. 

The troops were completely exhausted by the disas- 
trous fighting they had gone through, and the Com- 
mander-in-chief was justified in dreading a repulse on 
the Marne from the enemy's invigorated forces. He 
therefore ordered a retreat, the troops being informed 
that the attack should be renewed as soon as they were 
once more in a condition to fight. 

Soon after midnight the divisions were already 
drawn up behind the outposts, and the baggage trains 
were sent back first. At noon the troops were able to 
follow over the bridges at Neuilly, Bry, and Joinville. 
Only one brigade remained to protect the passage. 

The retreat was very skilfully covered by a series of 
smaU. attacks on the German outposts. The French 


batteries had opened fire at Le-Plant an^ Bry by day 
break, and the withdrawal of the enemy's army was 
completely hidden by the thick mist. 

General Fransecky assembled the Saxon and the 
Wiirtemberg Divisions in fighting order at Villiers and 
Coeuilly, the 7th Brigade with the artillery of the 
Second Corps and two regiments of the Sixth at Chen- 
nevieres, intending to wait for the expected reinforce- 
ment of the 4th, which was to come from the Sixth 
Corps. The 23rd Division received orders from the 
Crown Prince of Saxony to cross to the left bank of 
the Marne, whilst the corps of Gruards had in the mean-' 
time extended their outposts to Chelles. 

Matters remained so on the 3rd, with the exception 
of petty frays, and at four o'clock in the afternoon the 
troops returned to quarters. But early on the 4th, as 
the patrols rode out towards Bry and Champigny, they 
found these places vacated, and the peninsula of Join- 
ville deserted by the enemy. 

The French Second Army, which had been severely 
reduced and its discipline much shaken, turned back 
to Paris ; by their own statement they had lost 12,000 
men. The G-ermans had lost 6200 men, but took up 
the position again that they had previously held in the 
investing lines. "" 

This determined attempt on the part of General 
Ducrot is the most serious effort that was made to 
break out of Paris. It was directed towards what was 
at the moment the weakest point of the investment, 
but only met with good results at the commencement.* 

* A legend was subsequently circulated that the voice of one General 
at one of the German councils of war had, in opposition to all the others, 
prevented the removal of the chief head-qiiarters from Versailles. Apart 
from the fact that during the whole course of the invasion no council of 
war was ever held, it never occurred to any member of the King's mili- 
tjiry suite to set so bad an example to the army. 



The newly-formed army in the north of France had 
not remained inactive. Rouen and Lille were their 
chief centres. In front of Lille, the Somme with its 
fortified passages at Ham, Peronne, Amiens, and Ab- 
beville afforded a field equally advantageous for attacks 
in front or for a secure retreat. The advance of the 
French in independent columns had, indeed, on various 
occasions, been checked by detachments of the Army 
of the Meuse, and they were not strong enough to rid 
themselves permanently of that incubus. 

We have already seen how, after the fall of Metz, 
the Second Army retked towards the Loire, and the 
First into the northern departments of France. 

A large portion of the First Army was detained as 
far back as the Moselle by the transport of the numer- 
ous prisoners and by the watch kept at the fortresses 
which interrupted the communications with Germany. 
The whole of the Seventh Corps were either in Metz 
or before Diedenhof and Montmedy. Of the First 
Corps, the 1st Division had been withdrawn to Rethel, 
the 4th Brigade had been carried forward by railway 
beyond Soissons to the investment of La-Fere, and the 
3rd Division of cavalry had been sent on towards the 
Forest of Argonnes. The remaining five brigades fol- 
lowed with the artillery on the 7th November. 

Marching on a wide front, they had ah'eady reached 
the Oise, between Compiegne and Chauny, on the 20th. 
In front of the right wing the cavalry, supported by a 
battalion of Jagers, came across the Garde Mobile at 
Ham and Guiscard, but the French forces retired to 
Amiens on the advance of the infantry columns. It 
was understood that 15,000 men were there, and rein- 
forcements continually joining them. 


On the 25tli the 3rd Brigade reached Le-Quesnel. 
Of the Seventh Corps, the 15th Division succeeded in 
getting beyond Montdidier, and the 16th as far as 
Breteuil, whence they estabhshed communication with 
the Saxon forces at Clermont. 

On the 26th the right wing started for Le-Quesnel, 
the left for Moreuil and Essertaux. The cavalry made 
incursions across the Somme, the right bank of which 
they found occupied by the French. The enemy's 
attitude showed that they restricted themselves to the 
defence of that position. General von Manteuffel 
thereupon determined to attack, without waiting for 
the arrival of the 1st Division, which had been inex- 
plicably delayed on the way by railway from Rethel. 
But he wanted first, on the 27th, to concentrate his 
available forces on a smaller front, as they were spread 
out over an extent of four miles. But the battle was 
unexpectedly fought on that same day. 


(November 17th.) 

General Farre, with his 17,500 men divided into three 
brigades, stood on one side of Amiens, on the south 
bank of the Somme, at Villers-Bret'bnneux, and at 
Longueau, on the road to Peronne, keeping possession 
of the villages and the copses on his front. Besides 
these there were 8000 Gardes Mobiles haK a mile in 
front of the town in intrenched positions. 

In accordance with the instructions from head-quar- 
ters, General von Goeben had arranged that the 15th 
Division should take up their quarters at Fouencamps 
and Sains on the 27th; the 16th at Rumigny and 
Plachy, and in the villages fui-ther back ; the Artillery 
Corps at Grattepanche. The Eighth Corps had to as- 


semble before Amiens between the Celle and the Noye, 
standing at least half a mile from the First Corps, and 
divided from them by the Noye and the Avre. General 
von Bentheim, on the other side, had directed his 
advanced guard, the 3rd Brigade, to find quarters north 
of the Luce. 

At an early hour the Germans seized the fords of 
the stream at Demuin, Hangard, and Domart. At ten 
o'clock they moved forward in order to occupy the 
quarters intended for them, and as the enemy were 
already in possession, a fight began which gradually 
increased in magnitude. 

The wooded heights on the north bank of the Luce 
were taken without any particular resistance, and 
maintained in spite of several assaults by the French. 
The artillery advanced in the intervals. On the left 
the 4th Regiment seized the village of Gentelles, on 
the right the 44th Regiment rushed up to within 
300 paces of the left wing of the French position, and 
by a vigorous onslaught carried by storm the earth- 
works at the railway cutting east of Villers Bretonneux. 
Soon after midday a strong force of the enemy drew 
up at Bretonneux and in Cachy, directly opposite the 
3rd Brigade, which was extended nearly a mile. 

On the left wing of the Germans the 16th Division 
had by eleven o'clock already reached the quarters 
assigned to them, and had driven the enemy out of 
Hebecourt, as well as out of te woods north of this 
place towards Dury. When the Eighth Corps was 
called out on the left bank of the Noye, the 15th Di- 
vision was moved from Moreuil along the left bank of 
the Noye by way of Ailly to Dommartin, and the ad- 
vanced guard from Hailles marched on Fouencamps. 

Thus it happened that before noon, between the two 
corps, the roads from Noye and Montdidier were left 


completely exposed on the German side, while a French 
brigade was standing at the fork of the road at Lon- 
gueau, though, in fact, it remained absolutely inactive. 

This interval was at fii'st screened only by the 
numerous retinue and the staff of the Commander-in- 
chief ; and then it was to some extent filled up by the 
battalions constituting the escort of the head-quarters. 
As, however, at ten o'clock the French on their side 
commenced an attack on the 3rd Brigade, General von 
Manteuffel ordered the 15th Division to join in the fight 
as far as possible on the right wing. 

After a steady defence, the companies of the 4th 
Regiment were driven back out of the Wood of Han- 
gard towards the slope of the hill in front of Demuin, 
and subsequently, after having fired away all their 
ammunition, the defenders of Gentelles were driven 
back to Domart. 

General von Strubberg, instructed from the 
beyond the Luce, had sent four batteries in this direc- 
tion, which crossed the Avre, but came under such a 
hea\"j^ fire from the Wood of Gentelles that their fur- 
ther advance was prevented, and they had to change 
front on the copse. Behind them, however, the other 
detachments of the 30th Brigade pressed forward to 
St. Nicolas on the right bank, and to Boves on the left, 
and with the help of the 29th Brigade di'ove out the 
French from the heap of ruins. 

Meanwhile a part of the 1st German Division, who 
were retiring, had come up behind the 3rd Brigade. 
The position of the artillery was considerably strength- 
ened, the guns were directed against the earthworks 
south of Bretonneux. As further support the Crown 
Prince's Regiment marched out and the French were 
again soon driven out of the Bois-de-Hangard. The 
East Prussians, who were following, crouched behind 


the earthworks, several detachments of the 4th and 
44th Regiments gradually collected there from the 
neighboring woods, and di'ove the enemy from this 
position. Thirteen batteries now silenced the French 
artiUery, and, after they had fired for some time on 
Bretonneux, the place was, at four o'clock, seized by 
the Prussians, who came in from all sides with di'ums 
beating. The French in the town only opposed them 
at a few places ; for the most part they hurried over 
the Somme at Corbie under cover of the darkness, and 
with the loss of 180 nnwounded prisoners. 

When, somewhat later. General Lecointe advanced 
with the reserve brigade on Domart, he found the place 
already in possession of the 1st Division, so turned 
back. The French only succeeded in holding Cachy 
till late in the evening. 

The troops of the First Corps were accommodated 
for the night in the hamlets to the south of the Luce, 
the outposts remained on duty on the north bank, and 
Bretonneux also was occupied. 

On the left wing of the battle-field the 16th Division 
had advanced on Dury, had driven the French out of 
the neighboring churchyard, but had been forced to 
retire from an attack on the enemy's lines of intrench- 
ment, which were extensive and strongly defended. 
They bivouacked behind Dury. 

It was night before General von Manteuffel received 
news of the enemy's complete defeat. Early in the 
morning of the 28th the patrols of the First Army 
Corps found the ground clear of the enemy as far as 
the Somme, and all the bridges across the river demol- 
ished. By noon General von Goeben returned to 
Amiens, and the citadel capitulated two days later with 
400 men and 30 cannon. 

One pecuharity of the battle of the 27th November 


is the small extent of the battle-field in proportion to 
the number of the troops' engaged. G-eneral Farre, 
with 25,000 men in round numbers, covered a front of 
three miles from Pont-de-Metz south of Amiens to the 
east of Villers Bretonneux, with the Somine close on 
his rear. As the Germans attacked on about the same 
length of front, there was a break in their centre. The 
danger caused by this gap was not taken advantage 
of during the morning through the inactivity of the 
enemy, and it was then nullified by the occupation of 
St. Nicolas. 

The superiority of numbers was on the side of the 
Germans, for, although of the 1st Division in their 
rear, only the Crown Prince's Regiment could take 
part in the fighting, they were 30,000 strong. 

The 3rd Brigade had borne the brunt of the battle, 
losing 630 men and 34 officers, out of a total of 1300. 
The French also lost 1300 kiUed, besides 1000 reported 
missingo Part of the National Guard threw down their 
arms and fled for their homes. The main body of the 
French Corps retired on Amiens. 

Immediately after the battle the First Army was 
reinforced by the 4th Brigade, which had been brought 
from La-Fere. 


(November 27th.) 

This little fortress had become quite important, since 
it closed the line of railway passing through Rheims, 
whether to Paris or to Amiens. Lying in low open 
ground, well watered by the Somme and its tributaries, 
it is difficult of access; otherwise, the fortifications 
were restricted to a wall standing apart, with small 
earthworks lying close in front of it, and it was entirely 


exposed to view from the heights situated on the east 
at a distance of not more than 1500 metres. 

The brigade had temporarily invested La-Fere on 
the 15th November, and when the siege-train arrived 
from Soissons with thirty-two heavy guns, seven bat- 
teries were constructed and armed dm-ing the night of 
the 25th on the heights abeady mentioned. On the 
following morning these opened fire, and on the 27th 
the place capitulated ; 2300 Gardes Mobiles were taken 
prisoners, and the most serviceable of the 113 guns 
were carried to Amiens to arm the citadel. The 
Seventh Corps, which was to have supported the Fu-st 
Army, meanwhile never appeared in sight, because 
they still had further work to do on the Moselle ; on 
the 13th November the gi-eater part of the 14th Divis- 
ion had only reached Diedenhof. 


(November 24th.) 

This fortress, being shut in on aU sides by hills, was 
entirely without bomb-proof space ; the direct approach 
from the south was, on the other hand, rendered more 
difficult by inundations, and on the west and north by 
marsh lands. General von Kameke therefore decided 
to await the results of a heavy bombardment before 
making a regular attack. Batteries were erected on 
both banks of the Moselle, and on the morning of the 
22nd eighty-five guns opened fire. At first the fortress 
answered briskly. In the following night, to lay the 
first parallel, the infantry advanced to within 600 paces 
on the west front, but, in consequence of pouring rain 
and the condition of the ground, the work made but 
small progress. However, on the 24th at midday the 
Commandant sent in negotiations for the sui'render of 


the place. The garrison, 4000 men strong, with the 
exception of the National Guard stationed in the place, 
was captured and sent to Germany. One hundred and 
ninety-nine guns, besides a considerable amount of 
provisions, arms, and ammunition, fell into the hands 
of the victorious troops. 

The 14th Division was now required to lay siege to 
the forts on the northern frontier, which would occupy 
it for some time. The 13th Division was, by orders 
from head-quarters, directed to commence operations 
in the south of France. 


On the south-east of the seat of war Belfort had 
become the centre of continuous small engagements 
between French scouts and the rear of the Fourteenth 
Corps, who, under General von Werder, stood near 

However, when the divisions which up till then had 
been standing before Strasburg, had been relieved by 
a new contingent from Germany, the troops that were 
at Neu-Breisach were available, and these forces 
marched in the direction of Upper Alsace, while the 
1st Reserve Division had reached Belfort by the 3rd 
November, and by the 8th had effected the preliminary 
investment of that place. The larger half of the 4th 
Eeserve Division had marched to combine with the 
Fourteenth Corps at Vesoul, a detachment under Gen- 
eral von Debschitz occupied Montbeliard, and the 67th 
Regiment held Mulhouse and Delle. 

If we glance back at the German successes during 
November and the general military position towards 
the end of the month, we see the grand sortie from 
Paris repulsed in the north, the danger of being 
hemmed in done away with by General von Man- 


teuffel's victory at Amiens; in the east, Diedenhof, 
Breisach, Verdun, and La-Fere taken, Montmedy and 
Belf ort surrounded ; and in the south Prince Frederick 
Charles preparing to attack the French army at Or- 


(December 3rd and 4th.) 

"When the telegraphic order was received by the 
Second Army, soon after noon on the 2nd of December, 
the Prince on the same day assembled the Tenth Corps 
at Beaune-la-Rolande and Boynes, the Third at Pithi- 
viers, and the Ninth at Bazoches-les-Gallerandes. By 
evening the collected forces had their marching orders. 

The attack was expected to take place two days later. 
The Third Corps was first to advance on Loury by 
way of Chilleurs-aux-Bois ; the Tenth only on Chil- 
leurs ; the Ninth, however, were to attack Artenay at 
half -past nine. The 1st Division of cavalry, supported 
by the infantry on the left wing, was to keep a lookout 
over the Yonne, the 6 th was to follow the right wing. 
The Grand Duke, to whom it had been left to plan his 
own march on the west of the road to Paris, ordered 
the 22nd Division to assist in the attack on Artenay, 
the Bavarian Corps to advance on Lumeau, the 17th 
Division to remain at Anneux. The 4th Division of 
cavalry was to scour the country on the left flank. 

Already by nine o'clock in the morning on the 3rd 
of December the Third Corps met eight battalions and 
six batteries of the French at Santeau. The 12th 
Brigade and the artillery of the 6th Division, who had 
been marched up in the rear of the foremost battalions 
in the column of route, therefore formed line at La- 
Brosse. After a few rounds, one of the batteries of 
the left wing had to be withdi-awn from the battle, 


which had now commenced ; on the right, on the con- 
trary, the Artillery Corps came up by degrees, and by 
noon seventy-eight Prussian guns were in full action. 

The French, yielding to such superior strength, 
retired on Chilleurs ; but, after the Grerman batteries 
had advanced within 2000 paces of that place and their 
right flank had been threatened by an assault from the 
Jager battalions, they commenced a retreat towards 
the forest, and at three o'clock part of the 5th Division 
followed them up by the path which led to the south, 
and the 6th by the high-roads. As these had been 
obstructed in several places, it was six o'clock in the 
evening before the clearing by Loury was reached. 

On the right brisk musketry-fire was heard in the 
direction of Neuville, and an announcement also arrived 
that on the left the French were occupying Nancray. 

In consequence of this, some of the reserve forces 
that had remained at Chilleurs were brought up as a 
support, one regiment was fronted towards the west, a 
second towards the east, and, under cover of the out- 
posts on the south, the remainder of the troops biv- 
ouacked and went into quarters at Loury. 

The Ninth Corps had at first assembled at Chateau- 
Graillard, on the road to Paris, and then advanced along 
the high-road and against Villereau by way of Dam- 

At Assas they met the French, who were soon driven 
back by the guns, and vanished towards Artenay. At 
about ten o'clock an obstinate duel was opened with 
the batteries of the 2nd Division (French) in position 
at this place, in which part of the corps' artillery bore 
a part, seconded presently by the batteries of the 22nd 
Division, which had come up to Poupry. General 
Martineau slowly retreated in echelon before the over- 
whelming fire of 90 guns, the artillery leading the way, 


on La-Croix-Briquet and Ferme-d'Arblay. By twelve 
o'clock the Germans were in possession of Artenay, 
and after half an hour's rest they renewed the attack. 
It was a long and obstinate duel of artillery and in- 
fantry alike, while the 22nd Division pushed hard on 
the French left flank. At two o'clock their guns were 
silenced, the left wing column of the Ninth German 
Corps took the farm of Arblay, and the centre drove 
the enemy down the high-road, fighting persistently, 
past La-Croix-Briquet to Andeglou, where, under cover 
of the Marine ordnance, resistance was kept up till 

General Puttkamer had brought up five batteries to 
within 800 paces of Chevilly, and the 22nd Division 
was advancing on the burning village, when the gen- 
eral in command gave the order to halt, the Grand 
Duke doubting the wisdom of a night attack on an 
intrenched position. But when, soon after, a patrol 
of hussars announced that it was already evacuated, 
General von Wittich ordered his men to take posses- 

The troops bivouacked, under a heavy snow-storm, 
in and to the rear of La-Croix-Briquet. 

At the first advance the Ninth Corps had sent a 
detachment of four battalions of Hessians against St. 
Lye on the left. They had met the enemy at La-Tour, 
and had driven him back on St. Germain, but could 
not drive him out again. 

When the Tenth Corps, marching round by Pithi- 
viers, reached Chilleurs at about three o'clock, in the 
rear of the Third Corps, part of the 20th Division went 
on in the direction of the battle at Neuville, which, in 
the evening, became audible at Loury. Darkness had 
already come on and precluded the use of artillery, but 
the infantry broke into the village at several points. 


However, they found the streets barricaded, and met 
with obstinate resistance, so the attack had to be post- 
poned till the following day. 

The Fifteenth French Corps had alone received the 
onslaught of three Prussian corps. Strong contingents 
of the Army of the Loire, posted to the right and left 
of the Fifteenth Corps, made but feeble efforts through- 
out the day to support it. General Chanzy alone, at 
about two o'clock, ordered the 2nd Division of the Six- 
teenth Corps to advance when he heard firing from 
Artenay, though he had that morning begun his retreat 
on St. Peravy and Boulay. But this reinforcement 
met the Prussian 17th Division, which, coming up 
from Anneux, was on the point of joining in the fight 
at Andeglou, and with it the Bavarian Corps advancing 
from Lumeau. Their strong artillery, in position at 
Chameul and Sougy, soon forced the French to retire. 
First Douzy and then Huetre were taken, and the 
chateau of Chevilly occupied by the 17th Division. 
Here, too, darkness put an end to the fighting. The 
troops of the right wing encamped at Provencheres, 
Chameul, and other places to the rear. 

Thus the German Army had made its way without 
much fighting to within two miles of Orleans. The 
French, indeed, had maintained their ground till even- 
ing in the neighborhood of Neuville, but the detach- 
ments stationed there were ordered to retire in the 
course of the night. They were to get into the Pithi- 
viers road by Rebrechien, and make a circuit by Orleans 
to Chevilly. But they thus came under the fire of the 
Third German Corps, encamped at Loury, and fled in 
disorder back into the wood, whence they attempted 
to reach their destination in detachments. 

It was only to be expected that the French would 
stoutly defend their intrenchments at Gidy and Cer- 


cottes, on the following day, if only to keep open their 
retreat on Orleans. On the 4th, therefore. Prince 
Frederick Charles ordered the Grand Duke's forces 
and the Ninth Corps to attack both points from all 
sides. The Third Corps was to advance from Loury 
on Orleans, and the Tenth, again forming the reserve, 
was to follow on Chevilly. 

General d'Aurelle had returned in the evening to 
Saran. Here he saw the 2nd Division of the Fifteenth 
flying past in complete rout, and heard that the 1st, 
too, had failed to make a stand at Chilleurs. The 
corps of the right wing were altogether shattered by 
the battle of Beaune, and those of the left no less by 
the fight at Loigny. The French General saw the 
danger of being driven on the Loire, with undisciphned 
hordes, and thus blocking the only passage across the 
river at Orleans. He decided therefore on a divergent 
retreat. Only the Fifteenth Corps was to retire by 
Orleans; General Crouzat was to cross the Loire at 
Gien, General Chanzy at Beaugency. Then their re- 
union must be attempted beyond the Sauldre. The 
necessary dispositions were made during the night, 
and communicated to the Government. From the 
Green Table at Tours, indeed, counter-orders came 
next morning, to maintain the position at Orleans, 
which was, in fact, already given up ; but the General 
adhered to his own determination. 

On December 4th the Third Army Corps (German) 
marched out of Loury in two columns, one by the high- 
road and one by Vennecy. Both reached Boigny by 
noon, having met none but deserters. 

A detachment was sent on to Neuville on the right, 
and captured seven deserted guns and stands of arms. 
To the left, another detachment occupied Chezy, on 
the Loire. After a short rest the main columns ad- 


vanced, and by two o'clock the 6th Division reached 
Vaumainbert, which was occupied by part of the 
French Fifteenth Corps. Although the country was 
not open enough to allow of the employment of artil- 
lery, the place was taken by the Brandenburgers, in 
spite of the stout resistance of the French Marine 
Infantry, and the fire of the batteries on the heights 
to the north of St. Loup could now be directed on that 
suburb of Orleans. 

The 5th Division had meanwhile come up behind 
the 6th and taken part in the fight. 

The Twentieth French Corps, which was still at 
Chambon, in the eastern part of the forest opposite 
Beaune-la-Eolande, had received orders at four in the 
morning, from Tours direct, to march on Orleans. 
Contradictory orders had previously arrived from Gen- 
eral d'Aurelle, but nothing further had been heard. 
General Crouzat had, as a precaution, sent his train 
across the Loire at Jargeau, and then marched in the 
direction he was ordered to take. When, at half -past 
two, at Pont-aux-Moines, he met the detachment march- 
ing on Chezy, he determined to fight his way across ; 
but as General von Stiilpnagel reinforced his two bat- 
talions by bringing up the rest of his division, the 
French gave up the attempt and withdrew to the other 
side of the river, crossing again at Jargeau. 

On the German side the attack on St. Loup was un- 
successful ; and since from the site of the battle he got 
no news of the other corps, and darkness was coming 
on. General von Alvensleben postponed any further 
attack on the city till the following day. 

To the north of Orleans the Ninth Army Corps 
(German) had advanced from La-Croix-Briquet on the 
intrenched position at Cercottes. At about one o'clock 
the foremost detachments of infantry entered the place. 


The 2nd Division of the French Fifteenth Corps was 
driven by the fire of the artillery into the vineyards 
outside the town. Here the infantry alone could con- 
tinue the struggle. The French defended every tena- 
ble spot, and in the railway station just outside Orleans 
especially held their own with great persistency. The 
station and the deep cutting through which the road 
ran were fortified with barricades and rifle-pits, and 
armed with naval guns. It was not till nightfall, at 
about half -past five, that they abandoned this position, 
but renewed the contest a little further back. To 
avoid street-fighting in the dark. General von Manstein 
put a stop to the battle at about seven o'clock, till 
next day. 

The advanced guard of the 17th Division of the 
Grand Duke's forces had found Gidy intrenched and 
strongly occupied. But at the approach of the Ninth 
Corps the French abandoned the position at about 11 
o'clock, leaving 8 guns behind them. The German 
Division, to avoid the wood, now marched to the west, 
on Boulay, whither the 22nd and the 2nd Cavalry 
Division followed as a reserve. 

They here found the Bavarian Corps and the 4th 
Cavalry Division engaged in a fight, having already 
driven the French out of Bricy and Janvry. When 
the artillery had for some time been engaged, General 
von der Tann stormed the position, at about twelve 
o'clock. But the French did not wait for this ; they 
beat a hasty retreat, leaving some of their guns in the 
trenches. The 2nd Cavalry Division followed in pur- 

The 4th Hussars, of the 5th Brigade, galloping past 
Montaigu, charged a French unlimbered battery and 
seized all the guns ; another at Ormes was brought out 
of action by a horse battery. From thence a strong 


body of French horse suddenly appeared on the left 
flank of the 4th Brigade, as these were crossing the 
road to Chateaudun. But Blucher's hussars, with a 
sharp swerve, drove the enemy through the village 
and back on Ingre. 

The 4th Cavalry Division was placed to watch on 
the Grand Duke's right flank; and the hussars here 
charged 250 men of the 2nd Life Guards, forming the 
escort of a baggage-train on the road to Chateaudun, 
and took them all prisoners. 

While the Germans were thus converging on Orleans 
from the north and east, the French Seventeenth Corps 
and the 1st Division of the Sixteenth were still in the 
field at Patay and St. Peravy. General Chanzy had 
assembled the latter at Coinces, and, to protect himself 
against their threatened attack in flank. General von 
der Tann drew up his 3rd Infantry Brigade, with the 
cuirassiers and artillery reserve, on a front towards 
Bricy. The 4th Cavalry Division marched on Coinces, 
where General von Bernhardi, leaping a wide ditch, 
with four squadrons of Ulilans, di'ove a body of French 
horse back on St. Peravy, without their stopping to do 
more than fire one volley. Other squadi'ons of the 9th 
Brigade charged the French tirailleurs, and pursued 
the cavalry till they had fallen back o'n a strong body 
of infantry. The 8th Brigade was observing Patay, 
and after that place had come under the fire of a bat- 
tery and been abandoned. General Chanzy gave up aU 
further attack and retired behind the wood of Montpi- 

The 2nd Cavalry Division now made for the Loire 
immediately below Orleans. Its artiUery destroyed a 
bridge at Chapelle over which a baggage-train was 
passing, and compelled the troops which were march- 
ing on Clery, along the further bank, to fly back to 


Orleans. Two military railway-trains from thence 
were not to be stopped by the firing, but one from 
Tours, in which, as it happened, was Glambetta himself, 
returned thither with all speed. 

The Bavarian Corps, meanwhile, had advanced on 
the high-road, and the 22nd Division, in touch with 
the Ninth Corps, on the old Chateaudun road ; the 17th 
Division on La-Borde between the other two. This 
division was called upon at about 3.30 to take the vil- 
lage of Heurdy, which was stoutly defended ; and when 
the Bavarians from Ormes had turned to the right on 
Indre, it proceeded by the high-road towards St.-Jean- 
de-la-RueUe. Having overcome all opposition there, 
too, the head of the division reached the gates of Or- 
leans at about six o'clock. 

General von Tresckow there negotiated with the 
military authorities the formal occupation of the town. 
An agreement was arrived at by ten o'clock, and 
shortly after midnight the Grand Duke marched in 
with the 17th Division, followed by the 2nd Bavarian 

The bridge over the Loire was forthwith secured, 
the French not having had time to blow it up. The 
rest of the troops found quarters to the west and north 
of the city. 

The peremptory orders from the Government to 
hold Orleans had shaken General d'Aurelle's original 
determination. When the greater part of the Fifteenth 
Corps (French) arrived there in the forenoon, he wanted 
to renew the attempt at resistance. But the necessary 
orders could not be transmitted to the corps on the 
right wing, nor carried out by those on the left ; and 
by five o'clock the General in command was convinced 
of the futility of any further conflict. The artillery of 
the Fifteenth Corps was fii'st transferred to La-Ferte- 


St.-Aubin; the infantry followed. The Twentieth 
Corps, as we have seen, was at Jargeau ; the Eighteenth 
had recrossed the Loire at Sully ; the Sixteenth and 
Seventeenth moved off westward in the direction of 
Beaugency, but remained on the right bank of the 

The battle, which had lasted two days, had cost the 
Germans 1700 men ; the French lost 20,000, of whom 
1800 were taken prisoners. Their large army, lately 
massed before Orleans, was now split up into three 
separate bodies. 


The troops were too much exhausted for immediate 
pursuit in any direction. 

It was decided that the 6th Cavalry Division, rein- 
forced by an infantry detachment of the 18th Division, 
should follow up the enemy to the southward only, 
ascertain his whereabouts, and destroy the connection 
of the railways from Bourges, Orleans, and Tours at 
the Vierzon junction. These cavalry troops were in 
quarters to the north of the city ; the French Fifteenth 
had a long start of them, and their ^main body had 
reached Salbris, when, two days after the battle, on 
December 6th, General von Schmidt arrived by a forced 
march at La-Ferte-St.-Aubin. Here he found a detach- 
ment of the 18th Division, which had already driven 
the French rear-guard back on La-Motte-Beuvron, and 
was now ordered to retire on the Loiret. Only two 
companies of the 36th Eegiment and one of pioneers 
joined the advance, and followed the cavahy partly in 
baggage- wagons and on gun-limbers. 

On the 7th, under orders from Tours, the French 
left the high-road and executed a flank movement of 


four miles in an easterly direction to Aubigny-Ville. 
The cavalry, supported to the best of their power by 
their artillery and the small infantry force, had a smart 
fight with the French rear-guard at Nouan-le-Fuzelier, 
and again in the evening at Salbris, in which the 
French finally had the best of it. The neighborhood 
being very thinly populated, the division had to get 
back in the dark to Nouan, to find shelter from the 
bitter winter night. 

Long before daybreak on the 8th, the French rear- 
guard had left Salbris to avoid a further encounter 
with the enemy, whose strength they greatly overesti- 

After some slight skirmishes the cavalry division 
reached Vierzon that evening. The telegraph wires 
were cut and the railway line torn up in several places, 
70 goods' vans were armor-plated, the direction of the 
enemy's retreat reported, and any offensive movement 
on the part of the French from that side was regarded 
as most improbable. 

The division had fulfilled its task ; it was now ordered 
to leave one brigade as a corps of observation, and to 
advance on Blois with the rest. General von der 
Grroeben maintained his positions at Vierzon and Sal- 
bris till the 14th. 

The winter campaign of this 6th Cavahy Division 
was exceptionally fatiguing. It was almost impossible 
to move excepting along the high-roads, and they were 
frozen so hard that it was often necessary to dismount 
and lead the horses. The inhabitants of the Sologne 
district were extremely hostile, the advanced troopers 
were shot down in every village. The French forces, 
on the other hand, made but a feeble resistance. 
Numerous prisoners and large quantities of abandoned 
materiel bore witness to a hasty retreat, in many cases 


to desperate flight. Nevertheless, in spite of mucli 
purposeless inarching and counter-marching, the corps 
of the right wing had by December 13th succeeded in 
joining the Army of Orleans at Bourges. 

The state in which they arrived may be gathered 
from the telegraphic Corresiwndence Urgente of the 
Government with General Bourbaki, who, when Gen- 
eral d'Aurelle was deprived of the command in chief, 
took that of these three corps. 

Monsieur Freycinet, who was no doubt kept well 
informed by the country peojole, assured General Bour- 
baki that only a weak force of cavalry stood in front 
of him, and repeatedly urged his advancing on Blois. 
The General replied that if he were to make the at- 
tempt, not a gun, not a man of his three corps would 
ever be seen again. His intention was to retreat at 
once from Bourges on St. Amand, and if necessary 
yet further to the rear ; the only danger was that he 
might be attacked before he could accomplish this, and 
be involved in disaster. 

The Minister of War himseK went to Bourges, but 
he too renounced all idea of an offensive movement 
when he saw the disorder of the troops. "C'e.s^ encore 
ce que fai vu deplus tristeP It was with great difficulty 
that he persuaded the corps not to retreat at once, but 
to await the course of events, under cover of a detach- 
ment pushed forward on Vierzon. 

On the day when General Schmidt entered Vierzon, 
the Fifteenth Corps was in the neighborhood of Hen- 
richemont, at about an equal distance with himself 
from Bourges. The Eighteenth and Twentieth Corps 
were at Aubigny-Ville and Cernay, from two to three 
marches away. 

It can scarcely be doubted that, if the 18th Division 
had followed the advance of the 6th Cavalry Division, 


the Germans might have taken possession of Bourges 
and of the vast military stores there. 

To the east of Orleans the Third Corps had marched 
up the river on Chateauneuf. They only met parties 
of stragglers till the 7th, when two divisions of the 
Eighteenth French Corps attempted to cross to the 
right bank of the Loire at Gien. This resulted in an 
engagement between the advanced guards at Nevoy, 
with the result that these divisions retreated across the 
bridge in the course of the night and continued their 
march on Bourges. 


(December 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th.) 

The Grand Duke's forces were in a position close to 
the retreating left wing of the French. In contrast to 
the disorder of the right wing. General Chanzy, cer- 
tainly the most capable of all the leaders whose duty 
it became to fight the invaders in the open field, had, 
in a great measure, restored the discipline and spirit 
of his troops. They were not only able to make a 
stand, but could even attack the enemy. They had, 
indeed, been considerably reinforced by the newly- 
formed Twenty-first Corps and by Camo's division. 
The latter formed the advanced guard at Meung ; be- 
hind it were the Sixteenth Corps at Beaugency, the 
Seventeenth at Cravant, and the Twenty-first at St. 
Laurent, by the woods of Marchenoir. 

On the day after the fight the Grand Duke gave the 
troops a day's rest; only the cavahy pursued the 
French. The 4th Cavalry Division reached Ouzouer ; 
the 2nd, arriving at Meung, met a strong force of in- 


On the 7th, the Grand Duke's forces advanced on a 
very wide front. The 17th Division, on the left wing, 
marched on Meung, where its artillery opened a duel 
with that of the enemy. Towards four o'clock, a Meck- 
lenbui'g battalion carried Langlochere by storm, but 
found itseK threatened on both sides by the approach 
of the enemy's columns. On the left Foinard was ere 
long taken and a gun seized, while on the right the 1st 
Bavarian Brigade advanced on La Bourie. Here, al- 
most at the same moment, the 2nd Cavalry Division 
came up by by-roads from Renardiere, having driven 
the enemy out of Le-Bardon by the fire of its guns. 
The Bavarians now marched out to meet the mass of 
French approaching from Grrand-Chatre. They fought 
a hard battle till nightfall, supported by the horse bat- 
teries, ending in the retreat of the French on Beau' 

During this conflict of the left wing, the Grand 
Duke's Army, the 1st Bavarian Division, had marched 
a considerable distance on Baccon, and the 22nd on 
Ouzouer ; and then, finding the French offered a deter- 
mined resistance, the Grand Duke decided on closing 
up his forces to the left. 

(December 8th.) To this end the 22nd Division 
advanced to the south of Ouzouer on Villermain. 
After repulsing the swarms of tirailleurs which attacked 
their left flank under cover of a fog. General von Wit- 
tich directed his march on Cravant, to effect a junc- 
tion with the right wing of Bavarians who were ah'eady 
engaged in a hot struggle. They had repulsed the en- 
emy's advance from Villechaumont, and had advanced 
with the 2nd Division along the road from Cravant to 
Beaugency ; when all three French divisions charged 
afresh, the Bavarians retreated on Beaumont. Here 
they found support from the former and 17 batteries, 


which were gi^adually brought into the fighting hne. 
Their fire and an impetuous attack from three Bava- 
rian brigades at last forced the enemy to fall back, and 
the position in the high-road was recovered. 

The French now, on their side, brought up a strong 
body of artillery, and the Seventeenth Corps prepared 
to advance on Cravant. But the 22nd German Divis- 
ion had already arrived there at about one o'clock, 
after taking Beauvert and Layes, with the 4th Cav- 
alry Division on their right and the 2nd on their left. 
So when, at about three o'clock, the dense French 
columns advanced on Cravant, they were checked by 
an impetuous attack of the 44th Brigade, which had 
joined the Bavarians, and soon driven out of Layes, 
which they had taken on their way. The five batteries 
nearest to Cravant had suffered so severely meanwhile 
that they had to be withdrawn. 

When at last, at about four o'clock, the Bavarian 
battalions advanced to storm the height in front of 
them, they were met by fresh troops of the enemy, and 
after losing the greater part of their officers were com- 
pelled to retreat on the artillery position at Beaumont. 
Finally, however, the French abandoned Villechau- 

On the left wing of the Grand Duke's forces the 17th 
Division had pursued the retreating French beyond 
Vallees and Villeneuve, and then at about half -past 
twelve had attacked them at Messas. The defence 
was obstinate, and it was not till dusk that they suc- 
ceeded in carrying the place. The artiUery directed 
its fire on dense masses assembled by Vernon, the 
infantry stormed the hill of Beaugency, and finally 
forced then* way into the town, where a French bat- 
tery fell into their hands. Camo's division then retired 
on Tavers, and even after midnight General von 


Tresckow attacked Vernon, whence the French, taken 
quite by surprise, fled to Bonvalet. 

The Commander-in-chief of the Second Army 
(German) had intended to march the Third, Tenth, 
and Ninth Corps on Bourges, from Gien, Orleans, and 
lastly from Blois. But the Grand Duke's force in its 
advance on Blois by the right bank of the Loire had 
met with unexpected resistance and a two days' en- 
gagement. At the army head-quarters at Versailles 
it was regarded as indispensable that the Grand Duke 
should immediately be reinforced by at least one divis- 
ion. Telegraphic orders to that effect were dispatched 
at ten in the morning of December 9th. The Ninth 
Corps, which was already on the march along the left 
bank and had no enemy in front, could not give the 
required support, as all the bridges over the river had 
been blown up. The Third Corps was therefore or- 
dered to leave only a detachment at Gien, as a corps 
of observation, and to march back on Orleans. The 
Tenth Corps was to call in the detachments it had 
posted to the east of the city and advance on Meung. 
Thus, on the 9th, the Grand Duke was still actually 
facing eleven French divisions with four divisions of 
infantry, quite unsupported. Early next morning 
General Chanzy proceeded to the attack. 

(December 9th.) The two Prussian divisions at 
Beauvert and Messas stood firmly awaiting the French 
charge. The two Bavarian divisions, having sustained 
great loss, were left at Cravant as a reserve, but soon 
had to be absorbed in the fighting line, when at seven 
o'clock strong columns of the French were seen ad- 
vancing on Le Mee. 

Dense bodies of tirailleurs were repulsed both there 
and at Vernon, and came under the fire of the devoted 
German artillery, which silenced the French guns and 


then opened fire on Villorceau. In spite of a stout de- 
fence, this village was taken by about half -past ten by 
the Bavarian infantry. The French advance on Ville- 
chaumont in gi^eatly superior force was also repulsed, 
with the assistance of three battalions and two batteries 
of the 22nd Division. The Thuringians then stormed 
Cernay, where 200 French laid down their arms, and 
one of their batteries lost its team and carriages. 

On the right wing, by a misunderstanding, the Ger- 
mans evacuated Layes and Beauvert, and the French 
marched in. However, with the support of the 2nd 
Bavarian Brigade, the enemy was again driven out 
of both places. Further to the north, the 4th Cavalry 
Division was observing the movement of a French 
detachment marching on Villermain. 

The French made renewed efforts by midday, ad- 
vancing again on Cravant in strong columns ; but this 
movement Greneral Tresckow r;>ttacked in flank, from 
Messas. He left only a weak detachment in Beaugency 
and secured the villages on the left on the way to 
Tavers. The main body of the 17th Division advanced 
on Bonvalet, reinforced the hardly-pressed Bavarians 
in Villorceau, and occupied Villemarceau in front of 
that place. Here the division had to maintain a severe 
struggle, at about three o'clock, with the strong col- 
umns of the French Sixteenth and Seventeenth Corps. 
The infantry rushing on the enemy with cheers suc- 
ceeded, however, in repulsing him and holding their 
ground in spite of a hot fire. At the same time three 
Bavarian battalions, with cavalry and artillery, had 
marched up from Cravant and had driven the French 
out of Villejouan. Further to the right a battalion of 
the 32nd had taken possession of Ourcelle. A line 
from thence to Tavers marked the ground so labori- 
ously wrung from the French, 


The battle ended with the retreat of the enemy on 
Josnes and Dugny. 

On this day the Third Corps were on the march to 
Orleans. The Ninth could take no part in the fight- 
ing but by the fire from their artillery on Meung and 
Beaugency, from its position on the left bank. It 
was not till near Blois that they met some French 
detachments. Fifty men of one of the Hessian bat- 
talions stormed the fortified castle of Chambord a little 
way from the river, and there took 200 prisoners and 
twelve ammunition wagons with their teams. 

Of the Tenth Corps only the infantry at the head 
had reached Meung, but it had sent forward a regi- 
ment of hussars with eight batteries, which arrived at 
Grand Chatre by about three o'clock in the afternoon. 

The Commander-in-chief of the Second Army now 
ordered the Bavarian Corps to retire on Orleans, to 
recruit after its heavy losses. But even when rein- 
forced by the Tenth Corps, the Grrand Duke still had 
to meet an enemy of double numerical strength, and 
instead of pursuing he had rather to think of defend- 
ing his position. 

(December 10th.) Before daybreak G-eneral Chanzy 
renewed his attack, which even the Bavarians were 
presently required to repel. 

At seven in the morning the French Seventeenth 
Corps rushed in dense masses on Origny, took 150 
prisoners, and forced their way into Villejouan. This 
advance was met by the 43rd Brigade at Cernay on 
the front, and by the 4th Bavarians with six batteries 
at Villechaumont ; while on the right flank G-eneral 
von Tresckow marched on Villorceau and Villemarceau. 
In this last village two of his battalions, supported by 
four batteries, resisted every onslaught of the French 
from Origny and Toupenay. At noon the main body 


of the 17tli Division advanced to repossess themselves 
of Villejouan. Here the French made an obstinate 
stand. The fighting, with great loss on both sides, 
was continued till four o'clock, and then fresh troops 
of French came up to recover the position the Germans 
still held in one single farmstead. 

All the artillery of the Prussian Division had, how- 
ever, deployed to the south of ViUemarceau; they 
were joined by two horse batteries of the Tenth Corps, 
and the batteries of the 22nd Division also opened an 
effective fire. The concentric fire of all these guns 
put an end to any further attack of the Seventeenth 
French Corps. 

Beaugency was now occupied by part of the Tenth 
Corps. During the past few days the German left wing 
had had a firm position on the Loire to depend upon, 
but on the right such a point had been whoUy lacking. 
The French had nevertheless made no attempt to take 
advantage of their superiority by extending their front. 
Not till this day did they march on the unprotected 
German flank. The greater part of the Twenty-first 
Corps was deployed opposite to it, between Poisly and 
Mezieres, and at half-past ten the strong columns 
advanced on Villermain. The Bavarians were com- 
pelled to form in a bow-line, with the 2nd Brigade, 
from Jouy to Coudray. Seven batteries were brought 
into that line, and on its right wing the 4th Cavalry 
Division stood in readiness. Before two o'clock 2 more 
horse batteries and 4 batteries of the Tenth Corps ar- 
rived from Cravant, and joined them there with three 
brigades as a reserve. The fire of over a hundred Ger- 
man guns made the French take their artillery out of 
action at about three o'clock, and separate weak attacks 
by their infantry were repulsed without difiiculty by 
the Germans, who awaited them in resolute defence. 


The French losses in this four days' battle are un- 
known. The Grand Duke's force lost 3400 men, of 
which the larger half belonged to the two Bavarian 

The Grand Duke had held his own against three 
corps of the enemy, till the first supports could come 
up, and this he owed to the bravery of his troops, 
more especially of the artillery. This alone lost 255 
men and 356 horses. The guns were brought into 
such requisition that at last almost all the steel guns 
of the light batteries of the 22nd Division, and most of 
the Bavarian, were rendered useless by the burning 
out of their breech blocks. 

The Third Corps had on this day just arrived at St. 
Denis, and the Ninth at Vienne, opposite Blois ; but 
here too the bridge over the Loire was blown up. 

On the French side. General Chanzy had learnt from 
the telegi'aphic correspondence of General Bourbaki 
with the Government at Tours, that nothing had come 
of Bourbaki's attempt to divert part of the German 
forces against himself. The long delay led him to fear 
an attack from their whole force; he had therefore 
decided on a retreat, which resulted in the removal of 
the Assembly from Tours to Bordeaux. 

At the Grand Duke's head-quarters a fresh attack 
was decided on for December 11th. The villages in 
front had been left strongly occupied, and it was only 
at noon that the enemy's retreat became known. They 
were at once pursued on the left by the Tenth Corps, 
and on the right, south of the woods of Marchenoir, 
by the Grand Duke's force. On the north, the 4th 
Cavalry Division was engaged in scouting. 

A thaw had followed the hard frost, making the 
march equally difficult for both armies. The Germans 
found the roads blocked with abandoned wagons and 


cast-away arms; the bodies of men and horses lay 
iinburied in the fields, and in the villages were hun- 
dreds of wounded quite uncared for. Several thou- 
sands of stragglers were captured. 

The orders from the army head-quarters at Versailles 
were for a pursuit, which should render the enemy 
incapable of further action for some time to come; 
but not beyond Tours. The Second Ai-my was then 
to muster at Orleans and the Grand Duke's forces at 
Chartres, and the troops were to have the rest they 
needed. From the first point constant and strict 
watch could be kept on Greneral Bourbaki's army, and 
to this end a connection was to be made with Gen- 
eral von Zastrow, who was to go to Chatillon-sur- 
Seine on the 13th, with the Seventh Corps. Still, no 
operations were to extend beyond Bourges and Nevers. 

The Second Army was accordingly next marched on 
the Loir, and by the 13th held the line of Oucques — 
Conan — Blois, that town having been found evacuated. 

On the 14th, the 17th Division marched on Moree, 
and on the Loir past Freteval. A fight ensued at 
both these points. Though the French had advanced 
so far, they seemed to intend making a firm stand on 
the Loir, where they had occupied Cloyes and Ven- 
dome in great strength. 

To attack with success, Prince Frederick Charles 
began by collecting all his forces. The Third Corps, 
hurrying after the army by forced marches, was in the 
first instance to fill the interval between the Grand 
Duke's forces and the Tenth Corps, which was with- 
drawn from Blois and Herbault on Vendome. 

But when, on the 15th, the Tenth Corps marched 
in that direction, the main body met with such a de- 
termined resistance close in front of Vendome that 
it could not be overcome before dark. The troops 


therefore retired to quarters in the rear of Ste. Anne. 
A left flanking detachment had found St. Amand occu- 
pied by a strong force, and had halted at Gombergean. 
The Third Corps had advanced in the course of the 
day on Coulommiers, near Vendome, had fought the 
French at Bel-Essert, and di'iven them back across the 
Loir and established communications. The Grand 
Duke, in obedience to orders, acted at first on the 
defensive. The Ninth Corps, after the restoration of 
the bridge at Blois, was at last able to follow the army, 
leaving a brigade in occupation. 

A greatly superior force was now assembled oppo- 
site the enemy's position, and a general attack was 
decided on ; but to give the troops a much-needed rest 
it was postponed till the 17th, and meanwhile, on the 
16th, General Chanzy withdrew. 

It had certainly been his intention to hold the Loir 
Valley still longer ; but his generals assured him that 
the condition of the troops would not aUow him to 
prolong the struggle. He accordingly gave the order 
for the retreat of the army at daybreak on Le-Mans, 
by Montoire, St. Calais, and Vibraye. 

Thus, in the early morning, the Tenth Corps found 
the French position in front of Vendome abandoned, 
and entered the city without opposition. On the 
French left wing only, where marching orders had not 
yet arrived, General Jaures made an attack on Frete- 
val, but in the evening he followed the other corps. 


On the 17th of December general orders had been 
issued from Versailles to the Armies both to the north 
and south of Paris. 

Now that General von Manteuffel had crossed the 


Somme, and Prince Frederick Charles the Loir, the 
Germans held possession of almost a third of France. 
The French were driven back on every side ; and in 
order not to split up their forces, it was thought 
advisable that the Germans should concentrate into 
three principal divisions. The First Army was there- 
fore to assemble at Beauvais, the Grand Duke's forces 
at Chartres, the Second Army near Orleans ; the troops 
were to have some needful rest, and their efficiency 
to be restored by the arrival from Germany of fresh 
reliefs and equipment. If the French made any new 
move, they were to be allowed to approach as close as 
possible, and then be driven back by a strong attack. 

The Second Army had but little prospect at present 
of overtaking the enemy beyond the Loir; and the 
reports from the Upper Loire now necessitated a 
sharper lookout in that direction. News came from 
Gien that the posts established at Ouzouer on the 
Loire had been driven in ; and it seemed not unlikely 
that General Bourbaki would take the opportunity of 
advancing by Montargis on Paris, or at least on Or- 
leans, which at this moment was occupied by only a 
part of the First Bavarian Corps. 

Prince Frederick Charles had got rid of his enemy, 
probably for some little time, and he decided, in obedi- 
ence to orders from Versailles, to remain with his 
forces in an expectant attitude at Orleans. Only the 
Tenth Corps was to be left to keep watch on the Loir. 
To secure support at once, for the Bavarian Corps in 
any case, the Ninth Corps, on its arrival from Blois at 
La-Chapelle-Vendomoise, on the 16th, was ordered to 
march on Beaugency that day, and on Orleans on the 
morrow. It covered eleven German miles in twenty- 
four hours, in very bad weather. The Third Corps 
followed it up. 


However, it was soon known that the enemy's de- 
tachment which had been at Gien did not form part 
of a large body of troops, and was intrenching itself at 
Briare for its own safety. So the Germans retired into 
comfortable quarters, the First Bavarian Corps at Or- 
leans, the Third there and at Beaugency, the Ninth in 
the plain of the Loire and up as far as Chateauneuf, 
with a strong post at Montargis. 

The Bavarian Corps was then transferred to 
Etampes, to recover at their leisure, to recruit their 
numbers, and make good their clothing and equipment. 
Nor were the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg's forces in 
a condition to pursue General Chanzy beyond the 
Loir. Six weeks of daily marching and fighting had 
tried them to the utmost. The dreadful weather and 
the state of the roads had reduced their clothing and 
boots to a miserable state. A reconnoissance beyond 
the Loir showed that the French could only be over- 
taken by long and rapid marches. So the Grand Duke 
allowed his troops a long rest, from the 18th, in the 
villages on the left bank of the river. 

Of the Third Army, General von Rheinbaben, on 
the contrary, had the three brigades of the 5th Cavalry 
Division at Courtalin, Brou, and Chai'tres reinforced 
by 5 battalions of Guard Landwehr and 4 batteries. 
A letter from the Chief of the General Staff at Ver- 
sailles had pointed out that this cavalry might probably 
be employed with great success in attacking the flank 
and rear of the enemy's retreating columns, and the 
Crown Prince had already given orders that they 
should advance on Brou in full strength on the 15th. 
In contradiction to these, the division obeyed an order 
which reached them on the 16th from the Grand 
Duke, under whose command they had not been placed, 
to take up a position on the Yeres. 


On this day the patrols had found the roads open to 
Montmirail and Mondoubleau, but there was a body of 
French infantry in front of Cloyes, which retired after 
a short fray. On the left, communications were estab- 
lished with the 4th Cavalry Division. On the 17th, 
the 12th Cavalry Brigade entered Cloyes, already 
evacuated by the French ; on the 13th they advanced 
on Arrou, and only General von Bartz marched on 
Droue with a force of all arms, where he surprised the 
French at their cooking, and carried off much plunder. 

On the 18th, the 12th Brigade still found a few strag- 
glers there, but the other two brigades marched a little 
way to the westward on La-Bazoche-Gouet and Ar- 
viUe, whence the enemy had quite disappeared. To 
the south of ArvUle a battalion of the Guard Land- 
wehr drove the French infantry out of St. Agil. 

With this the pursuit ended on the 19th. The 
division retired on Nogent-le-Rotrou by the Grand 
Duke's desire, and subsequently undertook the obser- 
vation of the left bank of the Seine at Vernon and 

The Grand Duke's forces left their quarters on the 
Loir on the 21st. The 22nd Division occupied Nogent- 
le-Roi, and the 17th Chartres, till the 24th of the month. 
The 4th Bavarian Brigade rejoined its own corps at 

During the remainder of December only the Tenth 
Corps had any fighting, having been detailed to keep 
watch beyond the Loir from Blois and Vendome. 

Two brigades were marched on Tours on the 20th. 
On the further side of Monnaie they met the newly- 
formed troops of General Ferri-Pisani, 10,000 to 15,000 
strong, and which were advancing from Angers on 

The soaked gi'ound made it most difficult to deploy 


the artillery and cavaliy. The cavalry, indeed, could 
do no more than pursue the retreating French in deep 
columns along the high-roads, thereby suffering se- 
verely from the enemy's fire, delivered at very short 

On the following day General von Woyna advanced 
unopposed, with six battalions, on the bridge at Tours. 
A light battery was driven up on the bank of the 
river and dispersed the masses firing from the oppo- 
site shore, but it would have cost too many lives to 
storm the city, which, since the removal of the seat of 
Government, had ceased to be of any gi-eat importance. 
The detachment was recalled to Monnaie, and the 19th 
Division went into quarters at Blois, the 20th at Her- 
bault and Vendome. 

From thence, on the 27th, a detachment of two bat- 
talions, one squadron, and two guns marched past 
Montoire on Souge on the Braye, and there met a 
greatly superior force. General Chanzy had, in fact, 
marched a division of the Seventeenth Corps on Ven- 
dome to draw the Prussians away from Tours. Be- 
hind St. Quentin tl;ie weak Prussian detachment found 
itself hemmed in between the river and the cliff, en- 
closed on every side, and under heavy fire. Lieuten- 
ant-Colonel von Boltenstern succeeded, however, in 
cutting his way through. Without firing a shot the 
two Hanoverian battalions rushed on the dense body 
of tirailleurs who cut off their retreat, and fought their 
way out hand-to-hand. Through the gap thus made 
the guns followed, after firing a round of gi'ape-shot, 
and notwithstanding losses to the teams they were got 
back to Montoire. The squadron also charged through 
two lines of riflemen and rejoined the infantry. 

As a result of this incident General von Kraatz, 
after collecting the remainder of the 20th Division 


from Herbault, determined to enlighten the situation 
by a fresh reconnoissance. Four battahons were to 
advance from Vendome, and the 1st Cavah-y Brigade 
from Freteval was to scout towards Epuisay. On this 
day, however, General de Jouffroy was marching on 
Vendome to attack it with two divisions. 

When, at about ten o'clock, the reconnoitring force 
from Vendome reached the Azay, they came under a 
hot fire from the opposite slope of the valley. Soon 
after this six French battalions attacked them in fiank 
from the south, and repeated notice was brought in 
that considerable forces of the enemy were marching 
on Vendome direct, from the north of Azay by Epse- 
reuse. General von Kraatz perceived that he would 
have to face a planned attack from very superior 
numbers, and determined to restrict himself to the local 
defence of Vendome. Under cover of a battalion, left 
to maintain its position at Huchepie, he achieved the 
retreat of the detachment in perfect order, and it then 
took up a position on the railway embankment to the 
west of the city. 

Further to the north the French columns, advancing 
past Espereuse, had already reached Bel- Air. A bat- 
talion hastening up from Vendome occupied the cha- 
teau, but being outflanked on the right by a superior 
force was obliged to retire, and likewise took up a posi- 
tion behind the railway. At about two o'clock the 
French attacked this position in dense masses of sharp- 
shooters, but came under the fire of six batteries 
posted on the heights behind Vendome, which di'ove 
back their right wing. A column advanced, along the 
left bank of the Loir from Varennes, to attack this line 
of guns, but hastily retreated out of range of their fire. 

The attacks on the railway from Bel- Air and Tuile- 
ries were a more serious affair ; eight companies placed 


there, however, repelled them. At four o'clock the 
French once more advanced in strength; fortune 
wavered for some time, and at last, as darkness fell, 
they retired. 

The 1st Cavalry Brigade, with two companies and a 
horse battery, had marched on Danze. Captain Spitz, 
with a small number of his Westphalian Fusihers, fell 
on two batteries which had been drawn up there, and 
captured two guns and three limbers. With these and 
fifty prisoners General von Liideritz returned to Frete- 
val by about one o'clock, after pursuing the enemy as 
far as Epuisay. 

The French attempt on Yendome had utterly failed, 
and they now retreated to a greater distance. General 
von Kraatz, however, was ordered, with an eye to a 
greater enterprise to be. described later, to remain in a 
state of preparation on the Loir. 


In the south-eastern scene of war the French had at 
last decided on some definite action. 

Garibaldi's Corps, assembled at Autun, advanced on 
the 24th ; the detachments marched by Sombernon and 
St. Seine, with various skirmishes ai^d night attacks, 
close up to the front. Cremer's division advanced on 
Gevrey from the south. But as soon as reinforcements 
had reached Dijon from Gray and Is-sur-Tille, the 
enemy was driven back, and now General von Werder, 
on his part, ordered the 1st Brigade to march on Autun. 
General Keller arrived in front of the town on Decem- 
ber 1st, driving the French before him. Preparations 
had been made to attack on the following day, when 
orders came for a rapid retreat. Fresh detachments 
were needed at Chatillon, where those posted to pro- 
tect the railway had been surprised, at Gray, against 


sorties by the garrison of Besan^on, and also to ob- 
serve Langi'es. 

The Prussian Brigade marched on Langres with two 
cavalry regiments and three batteries, and on the 16th 
they met the French not far from Longeau, in number 
about 2000. The French were repulsed, losing 200 
wounded, fifty prisoners, two guns, and two ammuni- 
tion wagons. General von der Goltz had, in a day or 
two, surrounded Langre«, driven the Gardes Mobiles 
posted outside into the fortress, and occupied a 
position on the north for the protection of the rail- 

In the country south of Dijon fresh massing of the 
French troops had now been observed. To disperse 
these General von Werder advanced on the 18th with 
two Baden brigades on Nuits. In Boncourt, close to 
the town on the east, the advanced guard met with 
lively opposition, but carried the place by noon. The 
French, assisted by their batteries drawn up on the 
hills west of Nuits, offered an obstinate defence in the 
deep railway cutting and by the Meuzin. When the 
main body of the brigade came up at two o'clock Gen- 
eral von Gliimer ordered a general attack. The in- 
fantry now rushed across the open plain, with great 
loss, especially in superior officers, against the enemy, 
who was well under cover and who, firing at short 
range, was not driven back on Nuits till four o'clock, 
after a hand-to-hand struggle. At five o'clock they 
abandoned the place to the German battalions. 

The Germans had met Cremer's division, 10,000 
strong, which had lost 1700 men, among them 650 un- 
wounded prisoners. The Baden divisions, too, had 
lost 900 men. They encamped for the night on the 
market-place of the town and in the villages to the 


Next morning the French were found to have re- 
treated still further, but the Germans were not strong 
enough for pursuit. The Fourteenth Corps had already 
been obliged to spare seven battalions for the invest- 
ment of Belfort. General von Werder therefore re- 
turned to Dijon, where he assembled all the forces still 
left to him with those of General von der Goltz from 
Langres, waiting to see whether the French would 
renew the attack. But the month of December ended 
without any further disturbance. 


"While the Second Army was fighting on the Loire, 
General von Manteuffel, after the siege of Amiens, had 
marched on Rouen. 

General Farre was indeed at Arras, in the rear of 
this movement, but the disorder in which his troops 
had retired after that battle made it probable that he 
would do nothing, at any rate for the present. The 
3rd Brigade, too, was left in Amiens with two cavalry 
regiments and three batteries, to occupy the place and 
protect the important line of railway to Laon. 

, The outlook on the west was more serious than on 
the north, for there, at this juncture, French forces 
threatened to interfere with the investment of Paris. 
General Briand was at Rouen with 20,000 men, and 
had advanced his leading troops as far forward as the 
Epte, where, at Beauvais and Gisors, he met the 
Dragoon Guards sent in from the Army of the Meuse 
and the Saxon Cavalry Division. The detachment of 
infantry which had escorted the cavalry had lost 150 
men and a gun, in a night attack. 

When the First Army reached the Epte, on Decem- 
ber 3rd, the two cavalry divisions joined the march, 
and the French retired behind the Andelles. The 


Eighth Corps arrived near Rouen, after skirmishes on 
the road, and found an intrenched position abandoned 
at Isneauville; and on December 5th General von 
Goeben entered the chief city of Normandy. The 29th 
Brigade advanced on Pont-Audemer, the First Corps 
crossed the Seine higher up, at Les-Andelys and Pont- 
de-l'Arche. Vernon and Evreux were occupied, num- 
bers of Gardes Mobiles having retreated by railway to 
Liseux. On the northern bank the Dragoon Guards 
reconnoitred as far as Bolbec, and the Uhlans found 
no French even in Dieppe. 

The French had retired to Le-Havre, and a consider- 
able force had been conveyed, in ships that were in 
readiness, to Honfleur, on the other bank of the Seine. 
The 16th Division continued its march, reaching Bolbec 
and Lillebonne on the 11th. 

The orders from head-quarters at Versailles had been 
transmitted by the Chief of the General Staff, and, in 
obedience to these. General Manteuffel now decided on 
leaving only the First Corps on the Lower Scire, and 
returning with the Eighth on the Somme, where the 
French in Arras were now becoming active. 

Besides making this evident by various small en- 
counters, on December 9th they had attacked a com- 
pany detailed to protect the reconstruction of the rail- 
way at Ham, surprising it at night, and taking most 
of the men prisoners ; and on the 11th several French 
battalions advanced as far as La-Fere. 

To check their fui'ther progress, the Army of the 
Meuse sent detachments to Soissons and Compiegne. 
General Count von der Groeben took up a position at 
Roye with part of the garrison from Amiens, and on 
the 16th encountered the 15th Division at Montdidier, 
which immediately retired on the Somme. 

Only the citadel of Amiens was now held by the 


Germans; General von Manteuffel, who liad not 
approved of the evacuation of the town, ordered its 
immediate re-occupation. The inhabitants had, how- 
ever, remained peaceable, and on the 20th the 16th 
Division, which had given up the attack on Le-Havre, 
arrived via Dieppe. 

A reconnoissance action by Querrieux made it cer- 
tain that great numbers of French were drawn up on 
the bank of the Hallue, and General von Manteuffel 
now concentrated the whole corps at Amiens. Rein- 
forcements might shortly be expected, for the 3rd 
Eeserve Division was on the march, and had already 
reached St. Quentin. The First Corps was also ordered 
to send another brigade from Rouen to Amiens by 
railway, and the General in command determined to 
attack at once with 22,600 men, his only available 

"General Faidherbe had assembled two corps, the 
Twenty-second and Twenty-third. His advance on 
Ham and La-Fere, intended to divert the Prussians 
from attacking Le-Havre, had succeeded. He next 
turned on Amiens, and had advanced to within two 
miles (German). He now stood, with 43,000 men and 
eighty-two guns, fronting to the west behind the 
Hallue. Two divisions held the left bank of this 
stream, for 1^ miles from its confluence at Daours up 
to Contay, and two beyond, at Corbie and Franvillers. 
The Somme secured their left flank. 

On December 23rd General von Manteuffel, with the 
Eighth Corps, advanced on the road to Albert. The 
3rd Brigade of the First Corps formed his reserve. He 
intended to keep the French busy with the 15th Divis- 
ion on their front and left wing, and outflank their 
right with the 16th Division. The unexpected exten- 
sion of the French right wing prevented this, and it 


became a front-to-front battle along the whole line. 
The commanding height of the eastern bank gave the 
French a superior artillery position, and the villages 
lying at the foot had in every instance to be stormed. 

The French had withdi*awn their outposts to this 
line when, at eleven o'clock, the head of the 15th Divis- 
ion reached the copse at Querrieux, and brought up a 
battery. Two battalions of the 29th Brigade took the 
place at midday at the first onslaught, crossed the 
stream, drove the French on the further bank out of 
Noyelles; but they now found themselves under an 
artillery and infantry fire from all sides. The East 
Prussians stormed up the slope at about four o'clock, 
and took two guns which were being served, but were 
forced to retire to the village before the advancing 
masses of the French. 

Soon after midday, too, Fechencourt was carried on 
the left, and Bussy on the right ; and the enemy, after 
a feeble resistance, was diiven back across the stream. 
Here, on the other hand, the German artillery could at 
first do nothing against the strong and well-posted 
batteries of the French. Vecquemont, however, was 
stormed, though stoutly defended, and street-fighting 
lasted till the afternoon. 

The 15th Division, against the intentions of their 
leader, had become involved in the fight before the 
16th, operating more to the left, could afford them any 

It was not till four o'clock that the 31st Brigade ar- 
rived at Behencourt, and, crossing the river by flying 
bridges, di'ove the French back into the village, where 
they still offered a firm resistance, but finally had to 
give way. The 32nd Brigade, on the extreme left, got 
across the Hallue and into Bavelincourt. 

Thus all the hamlets on the river were in the hands 


of the Germans ; but the short December day was clos- 
ing in, and further progress must be postponed till the 
morrow. Even in the dark the French made several 
attempts to regain the positions they had lost, particu- 
larly about Contay, where they overlapped the German 
position. But their attacks were repulsed both there 
and at Noyelles. They succeeded indeed in getting 
into Vecquemont, but were diiven out again, and then 
the Prussians, pursuing them across the stream, also 
carried Daours, so that finally the Germans held every 
passage of the Hallue. 

The battle was over by six o'clock. The troops re- 
tired into quarters in the captured villages, placing 
outposts near every egress. 

The attack had cost the Germans 900 men; the 
defence had cost the French about 1000, besides 1000 
unwounded prisoners taken into Amiens. 

At daybreak on the 24th the French opened fire on 
the Hallue cutting. 

Having ascertained that their numbers were almost 
double those of the Germans, it was decided this 
day to act only on the defensive, awaiting the arri- 
val of reinforcements and intrenching themselves in 
the positions gained. The army reserve was pushed 
forward on Corbie to threaten the French left flank. 

But at two o'clock in the afternoon General Faid- 
herbe was already retiring. His insufiiciently-clothed 
troops had suffered fearfully through the bitter winter's 
night, and were much shaken by the unfavorable issue 
of the fight. He therefore led them back under shelter 
of the fortresses. When, on the 25th, the two Prussian 
divisions and the cavalry pursued them beyond Albert, 
and then almost as far as Arras and up to Cambrai, 
they found no compact force at all, and only captured 
some hundreds of stragglers. 


When General Manteuffel had disposed of the enemy, 
he sent General von Mu'us to invest Peronne, while he 
himself returned to Rouen. 

By drafting off six battalions as a reinforcement to 
Amiens, the First Army Corps was left with only two 
brigades. The French had 10,000 men on the right 
bank, and 12,000 on the left bank of the Lower Seine. 
And these forces had come very close to Rouen ; on 
the south side within two miles. Meanwhile, however, 
the 2nd Brigade had again been sent up from Amiens, 
and on its arrival the hostile force was once more 
driven back. 


On the northern field of war, before the end of the 
year, the siege of Mezieres was brought to an end. 
After the battle of Sedan the Commandant had to send 
out provisions from the stores of the besieged town 
for the maintenance of the large number of prisoners, 
and it was, therefore, for the present exempted from 
attack. After that the fortress precluded the use of 
the railroad ; still it was only kept under observation 
till the 19th of December, when, after the disaster of 
Montmedy, the 14th Division fell back on Mezieres. 

The garrison numbered only 2000 men, but it was 
effectually seconded without by volunteers, who were 
extremely active in this broken and wooded country. 
The town was not completely invested till the 25th. 

Mezieres stands on a spur of the mountains, sur- 
rounded on three sides by the Moselle, and shut in by 
high ground. The construction of the fortress, which 
was strengthened by Vauban, was not calculated to 
resist modern artillery. There was an outer rampart 
at a distance of from 2000 to 3000 metres from the 
inner wall, and although the long delay had been 


utilized to make good tlie weak points by throwing up 
earthworks, a bombardment could not fail to be fatal 
to the defence. 

When Verdun had surrendered, heavy artillery had 
to be brought by rail from Clermont to a position close 
under the southern front of the fortress. The only 
hindrance to the erection of the batteries was the state 
of the soil, which was frozen to a depth of twenty 
inches ; but at a quarter past eight on the morning of 
the 31st of December eight field-guns opened fire. 

At first the fort replied vigorously, but by the after- 
noon its artillery was silenced, and the white flag was 
hoisted next morning. 

The garrison were taken prisoners ; large stores and 
132 guns fell into the hands of the Germans. But the 
chief advantage gained was the opening of another line 
of railway to Paris. 


In Paris G-eneral Ducrot had been busily employed 
in making good the losses sustained at Villiers. A 
part of the greatly reduced First Corps must be kept 
in reserve, the Second Army was redistributed. A 
sortie by the peninsula of Gennevillers and the heights 
of Franconville had not been approved by the Govern- 
ment. They expected confidently to see the Army of 
Orleans appear ere long under the walls of the capital, 
and steps were being taken on the 6th of December to 
facilitate a junction, when a letter from General von 
Moltke announced the defeat of General d'Aurelle and 
the occupation of Orleans. A sortie to the south 
would thenceforth be aimless, and after long discussion 
it was at last decided to break through the enemy's 
lines on the north by a great collective effort. 

The little stream of the Moree offered some protec- 


tion on that side, but only so long as the ice would 
not bear. And there were but three German corps, 
amounting to 81,200, over an extent of forty-five 
kilometres (twenty-seven miles English). 

Earthworks were constructed in preparation between 
Bondy and Courneuve, the forts to the north were 
armed with heavier guns, and a battery was mounted 
on Mont-Avron. Ninety rounds of ammunition were 
served out to each man, with six days' rations : and 
four days' fodder for the horses. They were forbidden 
to carry their kit, but the camp bedding was to be 
taken. The day at first fixed was December 19th, but 
it was postponed till the 21st. 

Thus, during great part of the month, the investing 
army remained almost undisturbed by the defenders. 
Regular food, warm winter clothing, and abundant 
supplies through the unfailing punctuality of the mails, 
had kept the troops in a thoroughly satisfactory 

The preparations of the garrison for a new offensive 
did not escape the notice of the besieging forces. 
Deserters brought reports of an imminent sortie. On 
the 20th information came from the posts of observa- 
tion that a large force was assembling at Merlan and 
Noisy-le-Sec, and early on the 21st the 2nd Division of 
foot-guards were, by order of the Commander-in-chief 
of the Army of the Meuse, in readiness to cross the 
Moree. Part of the 1st Division remained in reserve 
at Gonesse ; the rest were to be relieved by the 7th, 
and brought into action. On the right wing the Land- 
wehr Division of Guards occupied the country between 
Chatou and Carrieres-St.-Denis ; on the left a brigade of 
the Saxon Corps held Seran. The 4th Infantry Division 
of the Second Corps were drawn back on Malnoue 
to support the Wiirtembergers in case of need, as they 


were to make a stand against the French at Join- 

To divert the attention of the Germans from the true 
point of attack, a brisk fire was to be opened early in 
the day from St. Valerien ; a considerable force was to 
engage the right wing of the Gruards, General Vinoy 
was to lead the Third Army against the Saxons, and 
Admiral de la Eouciere was to fall upon Le-Bourget. 
This place, which was a standing threat, must at any 
rate be seized, and not till then was General Ducrot to 
cross the Moree, near Blancmesnil and Aulnay, with 
the Second Paris Army. 


(December 21st.) 

Le-Bourget was held by only four companies of 
Queen Elizabeth's Regiment (German) and one bat- 
talion of foot guards. When the mist rose at about a 
quarter to eight, the little force found itself under fire 
from the forts and several batteries, as well as from 
the armor-clad railway carriages. Within half an hour 
strong columns of the French were marching up from 
east and west. To the east the village was defended 
for some time against seven French iDattalions, and on 
the other side, five were brought to a standstill close 
to the church by the rapid fire of the Germans ; but 
some of the marine fusiliers made their way into the 
place from the north. Pressed on all sides by superior 
numbers, the defence was concentrated at the southern 
end of the village. The party holding the churchyard 
tried to force their way through to this point, but some 
of them were taken prisoners in the attempt. The 
French advanced step by step under great loss, and 
did not succeed in obtaining possession of the glass- 


works. Five fresh battalions of the French reserve 
marched up from St. Denis to the gas-works, and 
battered down the garden-wall, but still could not 
break the steady resistance of the Germans. 

At nine o'clock they were reinforced by one company, 
and at ten o'clock by seven more, who, in a bloody 
hand-to-hand struggle, fought their way to the church- 
yard and gas-works. By eleven the last of the assail- 
ants were routed, and Le-Bourget, in the expectation 
of a fresh attack, was occupied by fifteen companies. 
Two batteries of field artillery, which had been busy 
by the brook, were brought up to defend the village. 

Meanwhile General Ducrot had waited in vain for 
the signal which should have announced success at 
Le-Bourget. He had pushed the advanced guard of 
his army past Bondy and Drancy, when he was warned 
by the disastrous issue of the struggle on his left to 
give up the attack on the line by the Moree. 

The triumphant exploit became a mere cannonade, 
to which the German field-guns replied as far as possi- 
ble. By noon the French had retired. 

They had lost, by their own account, about 600 men. 
The German Guards had sacrificed 400, but they car- 
ried off 360 prisoners. In the evening the outposts 
resumed their old positions. 

The various feints of the Parisian garrison had had 
no result, and produced no alteration in the plan pur- 
sued by the German Commander-in-chief. Their ad- 
vance from St. Denis to Etains had been repulsed, 
and two gun-boats on the Seine were driven back by 
the fire of four field batteries on Orgemont. The tri- 
fling sortie on Chatou was scarcely heeded. General 
Vinoy had indeed led a larger force along the right 
bank of the Marne, but that was not till the afternoon 
when the fight at Le-Bourget was over. The Saxon 


outposts retired to the intrenched position near Le 
Chen ay. One of the German battahons in quarters 
there drove the enemy out of Maison-Blanche that 
same evening, another attacked Ville-Evrart, where 
fighting went on till midnight ; they lost seventy men, 
but brought in 600 prisoners. Next morning the 
French abandoned Ville-Evrart, under the fire of the 
German artillery posted on the heights on the opposite 
side of the river. 

Paris had now been invested for three months. A 
bombardment — never a satisfactory mode of action — 
could have no decisive effect against so large a place ; 
and the Germans were, in fact, well aware that nothing 
could reduce it but a regular siege. But the engineer- 
ing siege- works must wait till the artillery were in a 
position to second them. 

It has akeady been shown that the fortress artillery 
had been first employed against those forts which in- 
terrupted the communications in the rear of the army. 
There were indeed 235 heavy pieces standing ready 
for action at Villacoublay ; but it had proved impossi- 
ble as yet to bring up the necessary ammunition for 
an attack which, when once begun, must on no account 
be allowed to flag. ^ 

By the end of November, railway communication 
had been opened with Chelles, but the greater part of 
the ammunition had meanwhile been deposited at 
Lagny, and would now have to be forwarded by the 
cross-road. The ordinary country carts with two 
wheels proved totally unfit for the transport of shell, 
and only 2000 four-wheeled carts could be requisitioned 
for many miles round. Hence 960 more were brought 
from Metz with horses sent from Germany, and even 
the teams of the Third Army were called into requisi- 
tion, though they were almost indispensable just then 


as remounts towards the efficiency of the army on the 
Loire. Finally, all the horses of the pontoon trains, 
of the field bridging troops, and the columns of in- 
trenching tools were taken for the transport ser- 

A new difficulty arose when the breaking-up of the 
ice necessitated the removal of the pontoon-bridges 
over the Seine. 

The roads were so bad that it took the wagons nine 
days to get from Nanteuil to Villacoublay and back. 
Many broke down under their loads, and the drivers 
constantly took to flight. And at this juncture the 
Chief of the Staff gave the artillery another task to be 
carried out forthwith. 

Though the besieged had not hitherto succeeded in 
fighting their way through the enemy's lines, they now 
proposed to extend their operations so as to repel the 
besiegers till the circle became so thin that it could be 
broken. On the south side the German lines already 
extended beyond Vitry and Villejuif to the Seine ; and 
on the north, between Drancy and the Fort-de-1'Est, 
there was an extensive system of trenches and batteries 
reaching to Le-Bourget over a distance of 1000 metres, 
which in part might be dignified as regular siege-works. 
The hard frost had indeed arrested their construction, 
but they were armed with artillery and occupied by 
the Second Army. Hence the most favorable ^om^- 
cVappui for a sortie to the east, as well as to the north, 
was the commanding eminence of Mont-Avron, which, 
with its seventy heavy guns, stood out in the Marne 
valley like the point of a wedge between the northern 
and southern German lines. 



(December 27th.) 

To drive the French from this position fifty heavy 
guns from Germany, and twenty-six from La-Fere 
were brought up under the command of Colonel 
Bartsch. By the exertions of a whole battalion as a 
working party, two groups of batteries were erected, 
in spite of the severe frost, on the western slopes of 
the hills behind Raincy and Gagny, and on the left 
ridge of the Marne Valley near Noisy-le-Grrand, thus 
threatening Mont-Avi'on on each side at a distance of 
from 2000 to 3000 metres. 

At haK-past eight on the 27th of December these 
guns opened fire. A heavy snow-storm interfered 
with accurate aim, and prevented any observation of 
the execution done. Mont-Avron with the forts of 
Nogent and Rosny replied promptly and rapidly. 

The German batteries had lost two officers and 
twenty-five gunners, several gun-carriages had broken 
down under their own fire, and everything pointed to 
the conclusion that no result would be obtained on that 
day. But the firing had been more effectual than the 
men supposed. The fine weather on the 28th allowed 
of greater precision; the Prussian fire proved most 
telling, making fearful havoc of the strong but exposed 
French infantry garrison. Mont-Avi*on was silenced 
and the forts only kept up a feeble fire. General 
Trochu, who had commanded in person, ordered the 
troops to abandon Mont-Avron, and it was so effect- 
ually disarmed in the course of the night by the energy 
of Colonel Stoffel that only one disabled gun was left 
on its fiank. 

On the 29th the French guns were silenced, and th© 


hill was deserted, as the Germans had no intention of 
occupying the position. Then* batteries were now 
tui'ned on the forts, which suffered severely, and on 
the earthworks near Bondy. 

Before the year was out the besiegers succeeded in 
storing the most indispensable ammunition in Villa- 
coublay. The siege operations were entrusted to 
General Kameky, the artillery was under the command 
of General Prince Hohenlohe. The batteries had long 
been finished, and by the dawn of the new year 100 
guns of the heaviest calibre were ready to open fii*e on 
the southern fortifications. 




Wnn^E the French forces were engaged in constant 
fighting, in the north, on the Seine and the Somme, in 
the south, on the Loire and Saone, General Bourbaki's 
army had kept out of sight. Since the 8th of Decem- 
ber, when the 6th Division of cavalry had reported its 
presence at Vierzon, aU trace of it had been lost. It 
was, of course, of the greatest importance to the Ger- 
man Commander-in-chief to know the whereabouts of 
so large an army; only the Second German Army 
could learn this, and on the 22nd received instructions 
to reconnoitre. 

To this end General von Rantzau set out from Mon- 
targis towards Briare, where he found that the French 
had abandoned their position; in the course of the 
next few days he met them, and was defeated. 

The Hessians were reinforced to a strength of three 
battalions, four squadrons, and six field-pieces, but 
were nevertheless withdi-awn to Gien on the 1st of 
January. The French had displayed a force of several 
thousand Gardes Mobiles, twelve guns, and a body of 
marine infantry. A noticeable fact was that some of 
the prisoners taken belonged to the Eighteenth French 
Corps, which formed part of the Fu'st Army of the 

A regiment of the 6th Division of cavahy, sent out 
to reconnoitre on the road to Sologne, returned with 


the report that a strong force of the French were 
marching in column on Aubigny-Ville. On the other 
hand, two diivers, who had been taken prisoners, de- 
clared that the troops from Bourges were already being 
moved by railway, and the newspapers pointed to the 
same conclusion ; still, too much weight could not be 
attached to mere rumor as against a circumstantial 
report. At Versailles it must be assumed that the 
First Army of the Loire had not moved from Bourges, 
and that General Bourbaki, after recuperating his 
forces, would act in concert with General Chanzy. 

These two armies might attack the Germans at Or- 
leans on both sides, or one might engage and detain 
them there, while the other marched to relieve the 

This, in fact, was what General Chanzy proposed. 
Since the 21st of December he had been resting in 
quarters in and about Le-Mans, where railways from 
four directions facilitated the arrival of new detach- 
ments. His troops had no doubt great difficulties to 
contend with. For lack of billets for so large a force 
some had to camp out under tents in the snow, and 
suffered severely from the intense cold. The hospitals 
were full of wounded, and small-pox broke out. On 
the other hand, these narrow quarters were favorable 
to the redistribution of the companies and the restora- 
tion of discipline. The news from Paris, too, urged 
the General to prompt action. 

General Trochu had sent word that Paris could not, 
unaided, repel the enemy. Even if a sortie should 
prove successful, the necessary provisions could not 
be carried through, and nothing but the simultaneous 
arrival of an army from without could secure supplies. 
Now General Chanzy was quite ready to march on 
Paris, but it was indispensable that he should first 


know exactly what Generals Bourbaki and Faidherbe 
were doing. 

Of course, the concerted action of the three gi'eat 
Army Corps could only be planned and ordered from 
head-quarters. The General therefore sent an officer 
of his Staff on the 23rd December to Gambetta at 
Lyons, to express his opinion that only a prompt and 
combined advance could prevent the surrender of Paris. 
But the Minister believed that he knew better. The 
first news of a quite different employment of Bour- 
baki's army only reached Chanzy on the 29th, when 
Bourbaki was already on the march. Nor did Gam- 
betta's reply convey either distinct orders or sufficient 
information. "Vous avez decime les Mecklembour- 
geois, les Bavarois n'existent plus, le reste de I'armee 
est deja envahi par I'inquietude et la lassitude. Per- 
sistons et nous renverrons ces hordes hors du sol, les 
mains vides." * The plan of the Provisional Govern- 
ment was to be that "which would most demoralize 
the German army." f 

Under such obscure instructions from head-quarters, 
General Chanzy, trusting to his own forces, determined 
to make his way to Paris unaided ; but he soon found 
himself in serious difficulties. 

The Germans had no time to lose if they wished to 
profit by their position between the two hostile armies, 
advantageous so long as those armies were not too 
close upon them. The simultaneous attacks, on the 
31st of December, at Vendome on the Loir, and at 
Briare on the Loire, seemed to indicate that they were 
already acting on a concerted plan. 

* " You have decimated the Mecklenburgers, the Bavarians are wiped 
out, the rest of the army is a prey to uneasiness and exhaustion. Let us 
4>efsevere, and we shall drive these hordes off the land, empty-handed." 

t <^ui dǤmoralisera le plus I'arm^e Allemande. 


On New Year's Day orders were telegraphed to 
Prince Frederick Charles to recross the Loir and march 
against General Chanzy without delay, as being the 
nearest and most imminently dangerous enemy. To 
effect this the Second Army was strengthened by the 
addition of the Thirteenth Corps of the Grand Duke 
of Mecklenburg (17th and 22nd Divisions) and the 2nd 
and 4th Divisions of cavalry. The 5th Cavalry Divis- 
ion was dispatched to protect the advance on the left 

Only the 25th (Hessian) Division was to be left in 
Orleans to receive General Bourbaki, and to keep a 
lookout on Gien. To provide against a possible ad- 
vance of the Ai'my of the Loire, General von Z astro w 
was posted at Armangon with the Seventh Corps ; the 
Second Corps was detached from the besieging force 
and sent forward towards Montargis. 

Prince Frederick Charles expected to get three of his 
corps on the Vendome-Moree line by the 6th of Janu- 
ary, and to move the Thirteenth from Chartres on Brou. 


The Germans had hoped to find the enemy in winter 
quarters; but General Chanzy had provided against 
surprise by strong outposts. Nogent-le-Eotrou on his 
left was held by General Rousseau's division, and a 
large force of volunteers; strong detachments were 
posted from Vibraye and St. Calais, as far as the Braye 
stream, where General Jouffroy had come to a stand 
after the last action at Vendome ; on his right he had 
General Barry at La-Chartre, and de Curten's division 
at Chateau-Renault. 

The wings of the German army came into collision 
with these forces on the 5th of January. 

General Baumgarth, on the German left, had brought 



three battalions, two regiments of cavalry, and two 
batteries, as far as St. Amand. The 57th had stormed 
Villeporcher, on the road to Chateau-Eenault, had re- 
tired before four battalions of the French, and then 
had recaptured and held it. This much, at any rate, 
was now clear : a not inconsiderable force of French 
was assembled in front of the left wing of the German 
army, now marching westward. In following up this 
movement General Baumgarth was now deputed to 
insure its safety, and with this object was reinforced 
by the addition of the 6th Cavalry Division, and the 
1st Cavalry Brigade. 

The 44th Brigade on the right, in its advance on 
Nogent-le-Rotrou, had had a sharp encounter. They 
stormed the enemy's position at La-Fourche, and seized 
three guns, with a large number of prisoners. The 
main body of the corps reached Beaumont-les-Autels 
and Brou, but the cavahy failed to penetrate the woods 
to the north of Nogent. 

(January 6th.) By six in the morning the advanced 
guard of General Baumgarth's detachment was on the 
march to Prunay, but the main body could not follow, 
ha^dng to face a strong attack at about half -past nine. 
With a view to observing the enemy, the German in- 
fantry were opened out to great intervals between 
Villeporcher and Ambloy, and only a small reserve 
remained at La None. The engagement soon assumed 
wider proportions, and the Germans with difficulty 
maintained the Les-Haies — Pias line, being seriously 
threatened by the envelopment of their left wing, 
which the 6th Cavalry Division were now able to join, 
but could only come into action with one horse battery. 
The reserve, however, moved up along the high-road 
to Chateau-Renault and repulsed the French, who had 
already made their way into Les-Haies. But when 


they renewed the attack in close columns and brought 
up foui' batteries against the place, the Germans were 
obliged to retii'e behind the Brenne. 

Meanwhile the 16th Regiment, which had ah'eady 
got as far as Ambloy on the march to Yendome, had 
turned back to St. Amand to support Greneral Baum- 
garth, and the 38th Brigade of infantry deployed be- 
tween Neuve St. Amand and St. Amand with a strong 
force of cavahy on each wing. But as by some mis- 
take the town was evacuated, the Greneral of the 6th 
Division of cavahy, Duke William of Mecklenburg, 
ordered a retreat. The infantry had already come to 
a stand at Huisseau and there found quarters. The 
advanced guard fell back on Ambloy; the cavalry 
partly on Ambloy and partly on Villeromain. 

During the engagement at St. Amand the Tenth 
Corps had advanced on Montoire, in two columns, 
along the left bank of the Loire, leaving a battalion 
before Vendome on the right, to secure the egress of 
the Third Corps at this spot. 

When the 20th Division reached St. Rimay, at about 
one o'clock, they found the hills on the opposite side 
of the Loir occupied by Greneral Barry's troops. All 
the German batteries were brought up to the southern 
ridge of the valley and soon drove the French off the 
broad slopes ; but the defile of Les-Roches in the front 
remained quite unassailable. The ruined bridge at 
Lavardin, lower down the stream, was therefore made 
practicable with pontoons. The 19th Division had 
meanwhile reached that place, several battalions 
crossed from the south to attack Les-Roches, and easily 
dislodged the French. As darkness came on, prevent- 
ing any further advance, the corps found quarters in 
and about Montoire. 

The General in command of the Third Corps had 


intended this day to make a lialt before Vendome, and 
only push forward his advanced guard as far as the 
Azay; but this detachment met ere long with such 
stout opposition, that the main force was compelled to 
advance to their assistance. General de Jouffroy, with 
the idea of helping General de Curten, had started to 
renew the attack on Vendome, so the advanced guard 
of the 5th Division, on reaching Villiers at about half- 
past one, found the 10th Battalion of Jagers, which 
had been marching at the same time along the right 
bank of the Loir, engaged at Villiers in a sharp fight 
which had already lasted four hours. They brought 
their two batteries up to the plateau to the north of 
the village, and the 48th Regiment made its way to 
the ridge of the lower Azay valley, though its broad 
meadow slopes were swept by the French long-range 
rifles and the artillery which fired down the valley. 
And here the French sent over swarms of sharp-shoot- 
ers to continue the attack. 

The 8th Regiment (German) was presently brought 
up, and after a short fight on the right took possession 
of Le-Gue-du-Loir ; then further reinforcement arrived 
in the 10th Infantry Brigade, and by degrees the 
Prussian guns numbered thirty-six. The French artil- 
lery could not face their fire, and within half an hour 
it was turned on the infantry. At about half -past four 
the German battalions got across the vaUey, seized the 
vineyards and farms on the opposite hills, and stormed 
Mazange. Under cover of the darkness the French 
retired to Lunay. 

Further to the right (German) the 6th Division, on 
leaving Vendome at eleven o'clock, found the battalion 
left by the Tenth Corps at Courtiras fighting hard 
against a very superior force of the French. The 11th 
Brigade advanced upon the Azay intrenchment, though 


not without heavy loss, and when, at about half-past 
three, the 12th also came up, the artillery was brought 
to bear upon the place ; Azay was stormed, the river 
was crossed, and they established themselves on the 
heights beyond. The French repeatedly returned to the 
charge, but were successfully repulsed, and by five 
o'clock fighting was over and the French driven back. 

The Third Army Corps took up quarters between 
the Azay stream and the Loir. A detachment was 
told off to occupy Danze, higher up the river. They 
had lost thirty-nine officers and above 400 men, but 
had also taken 400 prisoners. 

In the course of the day the Ninth Corps crossed the 
Upper Loir at Freteval and St. Hilaire, without opposi- 
tion, and proceeded along the high-road to St. Calais, 
as far as Busloup. The Thirteenth remained at Un- 
verre, Beaumont, and La Foui'che. 

Prince Frederick Charles had not been led into any 
change of purpose by the attack on St. Amand and 
the obstinate fight at the Azay. The Thirteenth Corps 
were expected to reach Montmirail, and the Eleventh 
to be at Epuisay, both by the 11th of January ; the 
Third were to continue the attack on the French at 
Braye. But after the reverse experienced at St. 
Amand, the presence of a strong French force on the 
left flank could not be suffered to pass unnoticed. 
Duke Wilham was given verbal orders, at the head- 
quarters at Vendome, to return forthwith to St. Amand 
with the 6th Division of cavahy, and General von 
Voigts-Rhetz was ordered to support General Baum- 
garth, if necessary, with his whole corps. 

The country between the Loir and the Sarthe, 
through which the Germans must march, offers pecul- 
iar difficulties to an invading force and great advan- 
tages for its defence. 


The roads leading to Le-Mans are all intersected at 
right angles by numerous streams flowing through 
broad and somewhat deep meadow valleys. Groves, 
villages, and country-houses with walled parks cover 
the cultivated high ground ; vineyards, orchards, and 
gardens are enclosed by hedges, ditches, or fences. 
Hence almost the whole burthen of the struggle in 
view had to be borne by the infantry; there was no 
space for deploying cavalry, and the use of artillery 
must be extremely limited, since in a country so closely 
overgi'own only one gun could be brought to bear at a 
time. The enemy's centre could only be approached 
by four high-roads, and the communications between 
the columns, starting at least six miles apart, were 
confined to the cross-roads, which were almost impass- 
able from the severity of the season and the hostility 
of the inhabitants. Anything like mutual support 
was, at first, quite out of the question. 

Under these conditions their movements could only 
be guided by general instructions, and the officers must 
be left free to act on their own responsibility. Special 
orders for each day, though they were indeed issued, 
might, in many cases, be impossible to execute. The 
Commander-in-chief could not foresee in what relation 
the various corps might stand to e^h other after a 
day's fight. Reports could only come in at a late hour 
of the night, and the orders previously drawn up often 
came to hand when the troops, to utilize the- short day, 
had already set out on the march. 

(January 7th.) In obedience to orders from head- 
quarters. General Voigts-Rhetz sent that part of the 
19th Division which had already reached Vendome 
back to the support of St. Amand. The 38th Brigade 
had reached this place early in the day, and General 
von Hartmann, who had taken the command of it, 


marched out, the cavahy forming a right and left wing, 
by the high-road to Chateau-Renault. 

The advancing column found the enemy at Ville- 
chauve, at about midday. A thick fog prevented the 
employment of the artillery, and it was at the cost of 
many killed that Villechauve, Pias, and some other 
farms were seized from the French. Villeporcher and 
the adjacent hamlets were in their possession, and at 
about two o'clock they came out and attacked on the 
high-road with a force of several battalions. The 
weather had cleared, and it was soon evident that this 
move was only intended to screen the beginning of a 
retreat of the French to the westward. 

The Germans were quartered on the spot, and the 
reinforcements sent to their aid remained at St. Amand. 

The Tenth Corps,waiting for their return, did not quit 
their quarters at La-Chartre; only the 14th Brigade 
of cavalry went on to La-Richardiere to maintain com- 
munication with the Third. But they did not succeed 
in taking the village with only dismounted troopers. 

General von Alvensleben hoped to come upon the 
French on that side of the Braye, and to get round 
their left wing so as to join the Tenth Corps, who had 
promised him assistance. The Third Corps made their 
way towards Epuisay, leaving one brigade at Mazange, 
and as soon as news reached them on the march, that 
the French had abandoned Lunay and Fortan, that 
brigade also proceeded to Fortan. 

Epuisay was found to be strongly occupied, for the 
advanced guard of the Ninth Corps, retreating from 
Busloup, had just arrived there. It was not till half- 
past one that the French were expelled from the little 
town, having barricaded the streets; and even after 
crossing the Braye they fought hard, under shelter of 
various villages and farmsteads. 


A long fusillade on both sides was kept up through 
the thick fog ; but at last, at about four o'clock, the 
12th Grerman Brigade got forward to the ridge of the 
valley. The 9th Brigade took possession of Savigny 
without meeting any serious opposition, and Souge 
was stormed in the dusk. 

The corps had lost forty-five men and taken 200 
prisoners. It found quarters behind the Braye, but 
placed outposts on the western bank. 

The Ninth Corps retired for the night to Epuisay, 
though two corps lost their way in one of the few roads 
in the neighborhood. On the right, the 2nd Division 
of cavalry went off to Mondoubleau, to join the Thir- 
teenth Corps. The French retreated to St. Calais. 

The order from head-quarters, that the Thirteenth 
Corps were to march on Montmirail, had been issued 
on the hypothesis that it would have reached Nogent- 
le-Rotrou by the 6th, whereas it had in fact, as has 
been shown, remained at La-Fourche, Beaumont, and 
Unverre. The Grand Duke, who had expected a stout 
resistance, did not set out to attack Nogent till the 7th. 
When the 22nd Division reached the spot, they found 
all the villages deserted in the valley of the Upper 
Huisne, and entered the town without any fighting, at 
about two o'clock. They took up quarters there ; the 
4th Cavalry Division went to Thirion-Gardais, and 
only the advanced guard went to search for the enemy. 
They found the wood by Le-Gibet strongly occupied 
by the French, and did not succeed in getting there till 
night-fall. The French retired to La-Ferte-Bernard. 

The 17th Division had at first gone with the reserve ; 
but at one o'clock, in consequence of the reports 
brought in, the Grand Duke diverted it to Autlion on 
the south; and in order to follow instructions from 
head-quarters as closely as possible he pushed at least 


a detachment of two battalions, two cavalry regiments, 
and one battery on towards Montmirail, under the 
command of Greneral von Ranch. 

(January 8th.) Finding, on the morning of the 8th, 
that the French had made no further attempt on St. 
Amand, Greneral von Hartmann, at nine o'clock, sent 
back the troops told off for his support. At ten 
o'clock he received instructions to join the Eighteenth 
Corps also ; but the French still held Villeporcher and 
the wood lying behind it, and were also di*awn up 
across the road to Chateau -Renault in a very ad- 
vantageous position behind the river Brenne. The 
General perceived the necessity of making a stand at 
this spot, and took the best means to that end by act- 
ing himself on the offensive. Supported by the fire of 
his battery, and with the cavahy on either flank, six 
companies of the 6th Regiment marched on Ville- 
porcher, drove the defence into the wood of Chateau- 
Renault, and took 100 prisoners. On the left, the 9th 
Uhlans rode down the Chasseurs d'Afrique. Not till 
darkness had set in did General von Hartmann retire 
in the direction of Montoire. 

General von Voigts-Rhetz had already set out from 
thence very early in the day. The night's frost had 
covered the roads with ice, which greatly impeded any 
movement. The road on the right bank of the Loir 
was in many places broken up. It leads up and down 
a series of abrupt hollows, and on emerging from these 
the advanced guard found themselves face to face with 
a force of about 1000 Gardes Mobiles, who had taken 
up a position in front of La-Chartre. Their mitrail- 
leuses were soon forced to a hasty retreat by the fire 
of two field-pieces, but it was only after a prolonged 
struggle that the German infantry, moving with diffi- 
culty, succeeded in entering the town, where they took 


up their quarters. Two battalions, whicli were sent 
further on the road, had to fight for their night's lodg- 
ing ; all through the night shots were being exchanged 
with the French in the neighborhood, and 230 prison- 
ers were taken. 

The 39th Brigade, which left Ambloy in the morning 
to follow the corps, only got as far as Souge. 

General von Schmidt was sent to the right, to estab- 
lish communications with the Third Corps. He was 
met at Vance by a brisk fire. The squadron which led 
the van made way for the horse battery, and a volley 
of grape-shot di'ove the dismounted cuirassiers behind 
the hedges for shelter. When two more guns could 
be got into position, a few rounds of canister dispersed 
a long column of French cavahy in every direction. 

Colonel von Alvensleben pursued the French cavalry 
with the 15th Eegiment of Uhlans till they came upon 
a body of infantry guarding the stream of Etang-fort. 
The brigade stayed at Vance, after putting about 100 
French out of action. 

Of the Third Corps, the 6th Division had gone for- 
ward by St. Calais. The French tried to line the 
trenches on greatly cut-up roads ; but they did not 
await a serious attack, and made off, for the most part 
in carts which were in waiting. The 5th Division, 
proceeding in a parallel line on the left, met with no 
opposition ; but the state of the roads made the march 
very difficult. The corps halted at Bouloire. The 9th, 
coming up behind them, entered St. Calais. 

The Grand Duke had moved both divisions of the 
Thirteenth Corps on La-Ferte-Bernard. On their way 
they came across none but stragglers, but they found 
the roads in such a state that not till four in the after- 
noon did they reach the town and settle into quarters. 
The French had retired to Connerre. The 4th Cavalry 


Division was to secure the right flank on the further ad- 
vance, but could not get as far as Belleme ; on the other 
hand, General von Rauch's detachment, dispatched 
to Montmu-ail, surprised the French in Vibraye, and 
took possession of the bridge there over the Braye. 

By the evening of that day the forces forming the 
German right and left wings were at an equal distance 
from Le-Mans, on the single high-road which leads 
across from La-Ferte-Bernard by St. Calais and La- 
Chartre ; the Third Corps was fui'ther in advance, with 
an interval of a long march. A closer combination of 
the forces could only be assui-ed by a further advance 
along the converging highways. Prince Frederick 
Charles therefore issued an order, at ten o'clock that 
evening, for the Tenth Corps to march next day to 
Parigne-l'Eveque, the Third to Ardenay, and the Thir- 
teenth as far ahead as Montfort, each sending an ad- 
vanced guard beyond those points. The Ninth was to 
follow in the centre, while General von Hartmann was 
to protect Vendome with the 38th Brigade and the 1st 
Division of cavalry. 

But the mere distance was too gi-eat to allow of the 
wings being brought so rapidly to the points desig- 
nated; and on the 9th of January snow-storms, ice- 
bound roads, and a thick fog still further impeded 
their progress. 

(January 9th.) General von Hartmann marched his 
infantry brigade on Chateau Renault, and entered the 
town by one o'clock. Curten's division (French) had 
started early in the day for St. Laurent. 

The Tenth Corps, though incomplete, retreated this 
day, in two columns ; General von Woyna's detachment 
was to march from Pont-de-Braye by Vance, the re- 
mainder of the corps from La Chartre via Brives, to 
meet at Grand-Luce. 


The 20th Division had scarcely set out, by this 
route, from L'Homme, when they came under a sharp 
fire of shell and bullets. In this place there happened, 
for once, to be room for three batteries to advance, but 
in the heavy snow-fall aim was out of the question. 
The German infantry, however, by degrees drove the 
French out of various hamlets and farmsteads, and 
back across the Brives. To pursue them beyond that 
stream a bridge must have been thrown across, with 
some loss of time, and then Chahaignes would have 
had to be seized. 

But in the narrow valley which lay before them they 
expected some rather hot work. The nature of the 
road was such that the artillerymen and cavahy had 
to dismount and lead the horses. The Greneral in 
command rode on a gun-carriage; his staff went on 
foot. Some horses which had fallen in front stopped 
the way for the column ; the artillery were then sent 
back to try next day to come on by the Vance road. 

To facilitate the march of the 20th Division, General 
von Woyna had been instructed to deviate from his 
direct road and attack the enemy's left. When he ap- 
proached the hollow, there was no sound of fighting 
there, and the detachment was turned back at Vance ; 
but at Brives, at about half-past three, the main 
column met with fresh resistance, being received with 
a brisk fire from the heights north-east of the village. 
Not even the infantry could move beyond the high- 
road, so there was no alternative ; they must march 
straight on. Meanwhile, however, the 30th Brigade 
came up and drove off the enemy. 

It was half-past six in the evening, and quite dark, 
when Colonel von Valentin! set out for St. Pieri'e with 
four battalions, and there took 100 French prisoners 
and a loaded baggage-train of 100 wagons. 


The Tenth Corps spent the night with its van as far 
forward as Brives and Vance, but its rear straggled as 
far back as the valley of the Loir. Nor had the 14th 
Brigade of cavalry been able to make any headway. 

Of the Third Corps, the 6th Division had proceeded 
by the high-road, beyond Bouloire, with the artillery 
corps ; the 5th had moved on, on the left, by cross- 

The advanced guard of the Third Corps, after a smart 
brush, had expelled the French from a position in front 
of Ardenay, but at two o'clock had to repel a deter- 
mined attack there. After General de Jouffroy had 
withdrawn to the south of St. Calais, General Chanzy 
had pushed the division under Paris forward from 
thence towards Le-Mans. He had taken up a position 
near Ardenay, occupying the chateau on the right, and 
placing four guns and two mitrailleuses on the left 
close to La-Butte. To oppose these there was only 
room on the road for two German field-pieces, which, 
however, in the course of half an hour had silenced the 
mitrailleuses, and then carried on the unequal contest 
with the greatest obstinacy. At about four o'clock five 
companies of the 12th Brigade stormed the chateau, 
while others, crossing the meadow-land to the right, 
forced their way through a clump of trees to La-Butte. 
As night came on the French tried to effect a general 
attack along the high-road ; but this was repulsed, and 
the Brandenburgers, defying the steady firing of the 
defenders, took La-Butte and Ardenay wdth a rush 
and loud cheers, without firing a shot. The French 
were driven back into the valley of the Narais, losing 
many prisoners. 

On the right a detachment, consisting of one bat- 
talion, two squadrons, and two guns, had advanced with 
the 6th Division. They drove before them numbers 


of franctireurs, but at La-Belle-Inutile they met 
with more serious resistance. The post had already 
been carried by the 24th, who possessed themselves of 
a large ammunition and provision train, and took 
above 100 unwounded prisoners. Count zu Lynar 
then prepared the village for defence. 

The 5th Division had met with no opposition, but 
the state of the roads had seriously delayed its prog- 
ress. It was not till the afternoon that the head 
reached the Narais at Gue de I'Aune and took up 
quarters, there and to the rear as far as St. Mars de 
Locquenay. The advanced guard went on, however, 
to La Buzardiere, thus forming the van of the whole 
army ; Parigne-l'Eveque, on their left flank, was in the 
hands of the French. 

The Ninth Corps had followed the Third to Boulou^e. 

No orders from head-quarters had as yet reached 
La-Ferte when, at nine in the morning, the Grand 
Duke marched on Connerre with the Thirteenth Corps. 
Soon after midday the 17th Division came upon the 
French near Sceaux, and after an obstinate struggle, 
advancing all the time, drove them first out of the vil- 
lages and then off the road. The French, who had 
retreated to Connerre by forced night marches, lost 
above 500 prisoners in this small affair. But the short 
day was closing in and the advanced guard halted at 
dusk at Duneau. A detachment, on going further, 
found Connerre occupied by the French, and many 
watch-fires were blazing in the valley of the Due. 
The main force of the German infantry found quar- 
ters in and around Sceaux. 

Ranch's detachment, being ordered to rejoin the 
corps, took possession of Le-Croset, and of the bridge 
over the Due near that village, and then expelled the 
French from Thorigne. 


The French stayed in Connerre only till the evening ; 
then, leaving a company in occupation, they continued 
their retreat. This inevitably led them from the left 
bank of the Huisne through the quarters taken up by 
the Third German Corps, who were disturbed all night 
by wandering detachments of French soldiers, even at 
Nuille, where the head-quarters of the division were 

On the extreme German right the 4th Division of 
cavalry had occupied Belleme, after driving out the 
French battalion, which had likewise been ordered 

By this day the centre of the Second Army Corps 
had also got within two miles of Le-Mans, fighting all 
the way ; while the two wings were still at some dis- 
tance behind. As it was probable that the French 
would give battle in some strong position beyond the 
Huisne, it seemed advisable to await the arrival of the 
Tenth and Thirteenth Corps ; on the other hand, this 
was giving the French time to collect their forces also. 
By attacking at once, two of their divisions, now at 
Chateau Renault and Le-Chartre, could scarcely be 
brought up quickly enough, and the rest of their army, 
now concentrating on Le-Mans, were involved in fight- 
ing at a disadvantage on all sides. Prince Frederick 
Charles therefore sent the Third Corps to scour the 
country beyond Ardenay ; the Tenth was to advance 
on Parigne, and the Thirteenth on St.-Mars-la-Bruyere, 
though that place could scarcely be reached from the 
positions actually occupied by the corps that night. 

As we have seen, the army assembled near Le-Mans 
was still acting on the offensive on January 6th; 
General Jouffroy advancing on Vendome, and Curten 
on St. Amand. But on the 7th the French found 
their whole front, ten miles in length, reduced to the 


defensive. General Rousseau, on the left wing, had 
evacuated Nogent-le-Rotrou, and, without being hardly 
pressed, began his retreat by a night march to Con- 
nerre. In the centre, the crossing of the Braye was 
wrested from General Jouffroy; he retired from St. 
Calais, not on Le-Mans, but to join General Barry to 
the south. On the right, General de Curten abandoned 
Chateau-Eenault, and set out, unpursued, on the road 
past Chateau-du-Loir. To bring about some concerted 
movement of the three divisions of his right wing, 
General Chanzy placed them under the superior orders 
of Admiral Jaureguiberry ; he sent the Paris Division 
on to Ardenay by the road General Jouffroy had 
abandoned, and reinforced General Rousseau on the 
left, by ordering three di\dsions to support him on 
either side of his line of retreat. General Jouffroy 
was to return to Parigne-l'Eveque, and a division was 
sent to meet him there and at Change. 

General de Curten succeeded on the 9th in checking 
the progress of the left German wing for some time 
close to Chahaignes ; but Paris's division was driven 
back on Ardenay, and General Rousseau, thus sur- 
rounded, abandoned Connerre the same evening. The 
two divisions of the right wing withdrew to Jupilles 
and Nuille-Pont-Pierre. 

Under these circumstances General Chanzy's com- 
mands were that on the 10th Jouffroy's divisions 
should fall back on Parigne-l'Eveque, and the Paris 
Division march once more towards Ardenay. He sent 
the remaining three divisions of the Twenty-first Corps 
to meet General Rousseau, with instructions to retake 
Connerre and Thorigne. 

These intended attacks on both sides gave rise to 
the fierce battle which, on the German side, was fought 
by the Third Corps single-handed. 



(lOth, 11th, and 12tli of January.) 

(January 10th). The fight at Parigne and Change. — 
As, owing to the nature of the country, deep columns 
could not deploy without great loss of time. General 
von Alvensleben advanced on a wider front of small 
subdivisions, moving with intervals in front of and 
between Gue-de-1'Aune and Ardenay, with the 9th and 
11th Infantry Brigades next to Change. On his right 
the 12th marched along the high-road to Le-Mans ; on 
his left the 10th was to start from Volnay if Parigne 
were found abandoned by the French, and leaving that 
place on their left, were also to make for Change. 

Parigne had, in fact, been deserted by the French, 
but had been re-occupied before daj^break by De- 
planque's division ; and before the German troops had 
started, the far-advanced posts, towards the wood of 
Loudon, were smartly attacked by the French. The 
greater part of the 9th Brigade had to be brought up 
by degrees between Blinieres and the edge of the wood, 
but only seven guns could be brought into play against 
the strong French artillery. General von Stiilpnagel 
decided to reserve his strength for the struggle at 
Change, and not to carry on a sustained contest here, 
which must be decided as soon as the 10th Brigade on 
the left should make its appearance. 

This brigade, delayed by the difficulties of the march, 
did not reach Challes till noon; but it brought two 
batteries to strengthen the German artillery, which 
now cleared the way for the infantry attack on Parigne, 
which stood on high ground. In half an hour the bat- 
talions rushed on the place with shouts of " Hurrah 
for Brandenburg," taking a gun which the enemy had 


abandoned, and two mitrailleuses still being served. 
When the French retiu-ned to try to recover them they 
were repulsed, and lost another field-piece, two colors, 
and several wagons. After losing 2150 prisoners they 
fled to the shelter of the forest of Ruaudin. To keep 
a watch here. General von Stiilpnagel left two bat- 
taUons at Parigne, and proceeded at once to Change in 
two columns. In front of this village, at about three 
o'clock, the 11th Brigade had met with a violent resist- 
ance by the Gue-Perray from the other brigades of 
Deplanque's division. The 35th Regiment of the 2nd 
Battalion lost nine officers and above 100 men in a 
severe struggle at Les-Gars. The General in command, 
who was on the spot, dislodged both flanks of the 
enemy from strong positions, and on the left two com- 
panies succeeded in crossing the stream at La Gou- 

These at four o'clock came into contact with the 
advanced guard of the 9th Brigade, which Colonel 
Count von der Groeben had brought on from Parigne, 
taking possession of the Chateau of Girardrie on the 
way. As the two companies of the 11th Brigade sent 
up to the right reached Auvigne at the same time, 
the " General Advance " was sounded. Auvigne was 
stormed, the bridge north of Gue-la-Hart was crossed, 
and that village taken after a hard fight. About 1000 
prisoners were again taken from the flying French. 

It was already dark, and Change, the goal of the 
struggle, was not yet won. But when a barricade 
outside the village had been demolished, it was found 
that the 10th Brigade were already in possession. 
This brigade, on its way along the high-road from 
Parigne, had met with resistance both at Chef-Raison 
and PaiUerie. Having only two guns, they failed to 
silence the French artillery, but General von Stiilpnagel 


left a battalion here too, to watch the enemy, and hur- 
ried forward with part of the brigade to support the Ger- 
mans at Gue-la-Hart ; the rest were to attack Change. 

Here the French had already been for the most part 
dismissed to quarters, but they soon formed and offered 
a determined resistance. There was a long and fierce 
street-fight, which ended in about an hour's time, by 
the whole garrison of 800 men, who had crowded into 
the market-place, surrendering as prisoners. 

The 12th Brigade had at last got off from Ardenay, 
but not till eleven o'clock ; they proceeded unchecked 
along the high-road as far as St. Hubert, where they 
seized an abandoned commissariat train. Having 
aligned themselves with the rest of their corps, they 
halted for a while, but soon after they were attacked 
by French artillery ; and the enemy again advancing 
along the high- way. General von Buddenbrock like- 
wise advanced to the attack, and drove the French out 
of Champagne, some across the Huisne, and some back 
on the hills behind the village. Two guns then suc- 
cessfully defied the fire of the French artillery near 
Lune-d'Auvours, and the infantry expelled them from 
that shelter also. 

Further to the right a German battalion had taken 
St.-Mars-la-Bruyere after a slight skirmish, and was 
subsequently joined there by General Count zu Lynar. 

Thus the Third Corps had by this time taken more 
than 5000 prisoners and many valuable trophies, by 
equal skill and good fortune ; it had indeed left 450 
men for dead. 

The Tenth Corps had started that same day from 
Vance and Brives, and had reached Grand-Luce ; but 
Dot till two o'clock, unobstructed by the French, but 
along very heavy roads. Here they took up their 
quarters. The Ninth Corps remained at Nuille. 


Of the Thirteenth Corps the 17th Division had con^ 
tinned its advance along the left bank of the Huisne, 
and had found Connerre aheady deserted by the 
French. But on the further side of the river, the 
heights of Cohernieres, the railway station and the 
wood on the north, were occupied by the 2nd Division 
of the French Twenty-first Corps. General von Ranch 
led two battalions to attack them from the south, while 
from the east the 22nd Division was brought up, hav- 
ing crossed the Huisne at Sceaux and gone on to Beille 
along the right bank. The French made a stout resist- 
ance, and the fight lasted with varying fortunes till 
darkness came on. The Chateau of Couleon and sev- 
eral villages at the foot of the wooded hills were taken 
by the Germans, but the French maintained their hold 
on the heights and their position at Cohernieres. 

The 17th Division had meanwhile continued their 
advance, along roads frozen till they were as smooth 
as glass, and reached La-Belle-Inutile ; the 22nd passed 
the night at Beille. 

This division had that morning sent a detachment 
to Bonnetable, whither the 4th Cavalry Division had 
already proceeded. The 12th Cavahy Brigade followed 
as far as Belleme. Colonel von Beckedorff then 
marched forward to Chanteloup, whence he drove out 
the French in spite of an obstinate defence. 

General Chanzy had resolved on a decisive engage- 
ment before Le-Mans. Cui'ten's division had not yet 
arrived, and only a part of Barry's had come up, still 
the army from the camp at Coulie amounted to 10,000 
men. The right wing of the French position rested on 
the Sarthe ; the centre extended above a mile along the 
Chemin-aux-Boeuf s, and the left, making a slight bend, 
rested on the Huisne. Barry's division, already weak- 
ened by reverses, and General Lalande's National 


Guards — an ill-disciplined and ill-armed troop — were 
placed on the right, where the danger was least. De- 
planque's and Roquebrune's divisions, with Desmai- 
son's brigade and Jouifroy's division, held the centre 
and the left, Jouffroy facing General von Alvensleben. 
Behind this line Bouedec's division and Colonel Marty's 
troops were placed in reserve. These 50,000 to 60,000 
men, under Admiral Jaureguiberry, very sufficiently 
defended the position between the two rivers, which 
was well protected by earthworks at the most impor- 
tant points. Five other divisions, under the command 
of General de Colomb, stood on the other side of the 
river, about two miles distant, the Paris Division at 
Yvi*e ; Gougeard's still occupying the heights of Au- 
vours to the north of Champagne, Rousseau's at Mont- 
fort and Pont-de-Gesnes, Collin's in a bow-shaped 
position at Lombron, while ViUeneuve's, quite on the 
flank, faced Chanteloup. 

(January 11th.) On this day the Third German 
Army Corps was standing exactly opposite the main 
body of the French forces. It could not for the pres- 
ent hope for any support from the corps on its wing, 
and had a hard struggle before it. 

On the left, the Tenth Corps was stiU at Grand Luce 
that morning, and on the right the Thirteenth Corps 
had been detained on the previous day by the obsti- 
nate resistance of the French, who had held their own 
between Les Cohernieres and La Chapelle, and occu- 
pied Le Chene in their front. 

The 22nd Division had been thrown into great con- 
fusion in the course of the struggle in the wood, and 
it was not tiU they had been reformed and the enemy's 
position had been reconnoitred by both the Generals 
of Division that the fighting could be renewed, at 
about eleven o'clock. 


Two battalions of the 17tli Division and one battery 
had been left in a post of observation in front of Pont- 
de-Gesnes, on the southern bank of the Hnisne; on 
the northern side, the Mecklenburg battalions stormed 
Cohernieres in the afternoon, and after a sharp con- 
test, in conjunction with the Hessians forced their way 
to the westward as far as the Gue and on towards 
Lombron at about four o'clock. 

Further to the right, two companies of the 90th Eegi- 
ment of the 22nd Division had meanwhile taken Le 
Chene, in spite of a stout defence ; the 83rd Regiment, 
after a sharp fire from the guns, had taken the farms 
of Flouret and La Grande Metairie. Colonel von 
Beckedorff, on being relieved at Chanteloup by the 
4th Division of cavalry, had diiven the French out of 
St. Celerin and advanced to La-Chapelle-St.-Remy, to 
the right of the division, which occupied a large extent 
of ground behind the points it had seized. 

The Mecklenburg Grenadiers had held their own for 
a long time at Le-Gue and La-Brosse against superior 
numbers attacking from Pont-de-Gesnes ; and the 
main body of the 17th Division retired that evening 
on Connerre. 

But the more completely General von Alvensleben 
was thrown on his own resources, the'^more important 
it seemed to keep the troops in close connection. A 
strong force of the enemy was on his flank, nay, almost 
in his rear, on the hiUs of Auvours, and only kept at 
bay by the 12th Brigade, which, being thus engaged, 
could not at present advance to his assistance. 

And it was there that the battle began. The French 
had repossessed themselves of Champagne, and their 
artillery formed line under cover of the ridge. When 
their fire had been somewhat checked by four of the 
German guns, two battalions advanced to the attack. 


It was not till eleven o'clock, after an obstinate con- 
test, that the French were driven back to the heights, 
and the bridge over the Hnisne was taken. Greneral 
von Buddenbrock now placed two battalions in a post 
of observation, sent a third to Lnne-d'Anvonrs, and by 
noon returned with the rest of the brigade to rejoin 
the corps. 

Meanwhile the conflict had been raging with such 
fury all along the front that, at twelve o'clock, Prince 
Frederick Charles sent orders from St. Hubert to Gen- 
eral Voigts-Rlietz, to proceed with all speed to the 
field with the Tenth Corps; and at the same time 
General von Manstein was instructed to seize the 
heights of Auvours with the Ninth. 

It was one o'clock before the advanced guard of the 
Ninth marched up the hollow way through deep snow- 
drifts. They were followed by two battalions of the 
12th Brigade, bringing up two batteries with the great- 
est difficulty. The German infantry plunged into the 
wood, which was full of French soldiers, in the direc- 
tion of Villiers ; the 11th Regiment of Fusiliers seized 
three mitrailleuses that were being served, and as soon 
as the French had abandoned the position, turned 
them on the wood. 

Further to the left, at about three o'clock, two bat- 
talions of the 85th Regiment were detached from the 
main body of the 18th Division, to proceed to the 
western end of the ridge, supported by the Jagers and 
two batteries which were posted at Les-Hetres. To 
protect them two companies moved on to La-Lune, 
hindering the French from crowding down on the high- 
road. But in opposition to this movement the French 
opened a severe fire from their elevated batteries 
behind Yvre ; notwithstanding this, the Holsteiuers on 
the left rushed on a French battery and seized three of 


its guns. On the right they took possession of a 
neighboring farmstead ; and soon after five the French 
had vanished from the high ground to the western 

Here, however, a strong counter-attack had to be 
met that same evening, for part of Grougeard's divis- 
ion marched up the slope from Yvi'e. Their further 
advance was effectually stopped ; but they could not 
be prevented from remaining there for the evening and 
night. Still, by this struggle the 18th Division had 
kept open the rear and flank of the Third Corps. It 
was again required that evening to secure the crossing 
of the Huisne during the night for use next day ; so 
three battalions and one battery went down to the 
northern bank and repulsed the French troops in pos- 
session of the bridge. The division had lost 275 men. 

Greneral von Alvensleben had postponed the advance 
of the Third Corps till eleven o'clock, hoping for the 
arrival of the 12th Brigade. 

During the night the French completed the works 
on the skirts of the wood and took up a position 
there ; they also occupied the high bank on the oppo- 
site side of the river, where they had brought up sev- 
eral batteries. Thus a direct attack would involve 
heavy loss, and it was impossible tb outflank such 
extensive lines. General von Alvensleben therefore 
decided on advancing, at fh'st only against the enemy's 
left wing, and sent forward the 11th Brigade. The 
10th and 9th remained in reserve for the present, at 
Change and Gue-la-Hart. The 12th, released at Mont- 
Auvours, were also advancing, but by a cii'cuitous 
route, because the high-road was everywhere com- 
manded by the batteries above. 

The 11th Brigade, scarcely 3000 strong, followed the 
course of the Grue-Perray streamlet, round the northern 


end of the wood. To protect it against the French 
columns which threatened it from the heights, the 
35th Regiment formed line on the brook and occupied 
the Chateau of Les- Arches. The 20th tried to get for- 
ward by the cattle-path, and while holding the Cha- 
teau of Les-Noyers and the bridge there over the 
Huisne, drove off the French by sheer hard fighting, 
as far as Les-G-ranges. But they presently returned 
with so strong a force that the whole brigade was 
gradually brought up into the firing line. Les-Grranges 
was lost and retaken several times with heavy loss, 
particularly of officers ; but the Brandenburgers fought 
steadily on. 

On their left the 10th Brigade now made its appear- 
ance, having come up from Change at one o'clock. By 
two, the 52nd Regiment had possession of the farm of 
Le-Pavillon, of the wooded slope in front and the farm 
of Grand- Anneau, but their loss was severe. Strong 
columns of the French coming up from Pontlieue were 
driven back, two batteries were got forward under 
heavy fire from the Chassepots to within 800 paces of 
Le Tertre, and yet the 12th Regiment did not succeed 
in getting into the farmstead till two battalions of the 
9th Brigade had come to their assistance from Change. 
The position was taken by storm at about five o'clock, 
with the help of the 8th Regiment of the Grrenadier 
Life Guards. The 52nd Regiment, having spent all its 
ammunition, had to be taken out of action, but the 
battalion of Grenadiers rushed down on the cattle- 
path, taking two French guns which were firing on 
them, after a desperate conflict; but the enemy's 
repeated attempts to recover them were steadily frus- 
trated. A battery which the French were bringing up 
on the western side of the wood was driven back by 
rapid volleys. 


"WTien it was found that the 35th Regiment must be 
brought back from the Gue-Perray to support the 
20th, the French recovered possession of Les-Arches. 
Here the 12th Brigade had arrived from Auvours at 
two o'clock, only three battalions strong; the 64th, 
however, recaptured the chateau after a short fight. 
The overwhelming storm of fire from the artillery and 
musketry on the opposite side of the river hindered 
the Germans from getting up their guns, and it was 
only with great difficulty and the loss of many gun- 
ners that the pieces were brought away again; but 
every attack on the position by the French from Yvre 
was steadily repulsed. 

It was now quite dark, but the firing had not ceased. 
The Third Corps had taken 600 prisoners, but had 
lost 500 killed. It had fought its way into the heart of 
the French position, and its outposts were in close 
proximity to the enemy's front. And now, though 
late, strong reinforcements arrived. 

The Tenth Corps had moved from Grand-Luce to 
the westward early in the day, to block the high-road 
from Tours to Le-Mans, but the frozen state of the 
ground again delayed them on the way, so that they 
only reached Teloche in the afternoon. 

The sound of firing to the northward left them in 
no doubt that General von Alvensleben was fighting a 
great battle. The orders sent from head-quarters at 
St. Hubert reached General Voigts-Rhetz at noon ; but 
he then judged, and very rightly, that his assistance 
would now be more effective on the enemy's flank than 
on the field where the Third Corps were engaged. So 
in spite of the exhausted state of his men, who had had 
no hot meal on the way, he at once pushed forward. 

To protect himself against Curten's division, prob- 
ably at Chateau-du-Loir, he dispatched one battahon 


to Ecommoy. It was received with firing from tlie 
houses, surrounded in the darkness, and compelled to 
withdi-aw from the place ; but it kept the road clear in 
the rear of the corps. 

The head of the 20th Division found Mulsanne feebly 
defended, and di'ove the detachment back beyond the 
cutting of La Monnerie. 

The nature of the country here afforded great ad- 
vantages to the French. Ditches and fences were good 
cover for firing from, farmsteads and copses excellent 
positions for defence. Only eight guns could be 
brought to bear against the enemy's artillery; but 
nevertheless four battalions (Westphalians and Bruns- 
wickers) persistently repelled the French, and by night- 
fall had got as far as Point-du-Jour. The conflict only 
ceased at the cattle-path by Les-Mortes-Aures. Here 
the French held the whole plain before them, by the 
continuous running fire, kept up from behind lines of 
shelter-trenches rising one above the other. 

The battle wavered for a long time, but the German 
left presently gained ground. The 1st Battahon of the 
17th Eegiment rushed on the enemy, who returned 
their fire at the shortest possible range, and then made 
for the wood ; and when the drums of the 1st Battalion 
of the 56th Eegiment were heard at Point-du-Jour, 
beating the charge, the French carried away their 
mitrailleuses and evacuated Les-Mortes-Aures. 

This battalion had received orders to end the struggle 
at the point of the bayonet. Captain von Monbart led 
the attack at the double in close order ; all the com- 
panies at hand joined in it, and in spite of a steady fire 
from the cover of the wood, La-Tuilerie was carried by 
half -past eight ; and here the brigade reformed, while 
the 37th stood ready to support it at a spot beyond 
at Mulsanne. The French vanished in the darkness. 


The constant roll of wheels, the noise of departing 
railway trains, and a confusion of cries announced 
their flight. Still the prisoners, who were brought in 
in numbers, all agreed that a strong force was encamped 
in the woods. Watch-fires blazed there through the 
night, and instead of resting, the troops must have 
been preparing to meet a fresh attack. By about half- 
past ten the outposts reported the approach of a strong 
force of the French from Pontlieue. 

Hitherto the Germans had only had to deal with 
National Guards under General Lalande at this point, 
a force not much to be relied on ; but the Admiral now 
sent Bouedec's division against La-Tuilerie, with Gen- 
eral Roquebrune's to support their advance. 

The battalions in the first lines were under fire for 
above an hour in a perfect storm of projectiles, but no 
serious attack was attempted. 

According to French reports, their officers strove in 
vain to induce their troops to advance ; they constantly 
gave way. And a subsequent effort with the Garde 
Mobile was equally fruitless. 

Still, there was to be no rest. At two in the morn- 
ing the din of fighting again made itseK heard on the 
right. Deplanque's division had been disturbed by a 
flanking force of the 40th Brigade,'' who had been 
marching along the road from Euaudin to Pontlieue, 
to be at hand in case of need ; without returning the 
enemy's fire, they had attacked the detachment holding 
Epinettes and took possession of it, close to the cattle- 

(January 12th.) Only the Third and Tenth Corps 
could be reckoned on for the inevitable battle next day. 
The other two could only afford indirect assistance by 
keeping part of the French forces otherwise engaged. 

Of the Thirteenth Corps the 17th Division was to 


proceed via Lombron to St. Corneille, without allowing 
themselves to be drawn into a fray with the enemy- 
still occupying the banks of the Huisne ; the 22nd was 
ordered from La-Chapelle to Savigne. The little river 
Gue could easily be held, and part of the artiUery was 
left at Connerre with the 7th Brigade of cavalry. 

In their advance the Germans found that the enemy 
had already abandoned Lombron, Pont-de-Gesnes, and 
Montfort. Scattered arms and equipment betrayed 
how hastily they had fled. 

Several stragglers were brought in, and it was not 
till reaching the Merdereau, at about noon, that the 
17th Brigade met with any opposition. An attack 
from all sides dislodged the French from the Chateau 
of Hyre and from St. Corneille at about four o'clock, 
and 500 French were taken prisoners. They were then 
driven back behind the Parance, where the advanced 
guard halted at dusk. 

Colonel von Beckedorff's detachment of the 22nd 
Division had marched on Chanteloup from Sille, re- 
pulsing the French on La-Croix, where a large body of 
their troops made a stand. But when, after a long 
delay, the main body of the division arrived, the Ger- 
mans attacked at once. Whole regiments of French 
here laid down their arms, and 3000 men surrendered, 
with several officers. 

An attempt of the German cavalry to get across the 
Sarthe to break up the railway communication was, 
however, unsuccessful. 

The force occupying the ridge of Auvours had sur- 
rendered in a body. The 35th Brigade marched up to 
Villiers, but patrols sent ahead brought news that the 
French had retired behind the Huisne. • 

When the noise of fighting at St. Corneille was heard 
at midday, the brigade was ordered to proceed north- 


ward to support the ITtli Division engaged there. The 
84th Eegiment, passing by La-Commune, lent valuable 
assistance in the attack on Chateau-Hyre. Outposts 
were left by the Parance for the night, but the main 
body of the brigade returned to Fatines, and the 36th 
took up quarters between Villiers and St.-Mars-la- 

By the battle of the previous day the French position 
before Le-Mans had been forced ; but they still stood 
firm behind the Huisne, and as their left wing had 
been driven back on their centre, that point had been 
considerably strengthened. StiU, the stream must be 
crossed, the steep slope must be climbed, where every 
hedge of the terraced vineyards was held by strong fir- 
ing lines, and where the heights were crowned with 
batteries. The ford by Yvre, on the left, was very 
strongly protected, and the ground in front of the wood 
of Pontlieue had been made impassable in many places 
by abatis. Against such a position the artiUery could 
do little, and the cavahy nothing, while deep snow 
hampered every movement of the infantry. Greneral 
von Alvensleben therefore decided for the present on 
acting only on the defensive with his right wing, while 
with his left he prepared to support General von 
Voigts-Rhetz in his advance. 

The troops were roused from their short rest at six 
in the morning. Two companies of French were mak- 
ing their way towards the bridge at Chateau-les-Noyers 
with powder-bags, but they were compeUed to retreat, 
leaving the explosives behind them. At about eight 
o'clock the French made a determined attack on the 
outposts of the 12th Regiment, quartered in the wood, 
and drove them in as far back as Le-Tertre. Again 
the fight raged furiously round this farmstead, which 
was almost demolished by shell. One by one the last 


battalions of the lOth Brigade were drawn into the 
struggle, while detachments whose ammunition was 
exhausted were ordered out of it. Only four guns 
could fire with any effect, but by eleven o'clock the 
French volleys gradually died away, and they were 
seen to retire on Pontheue. The battalions of the left 
wing pursued, and came out on the Parigne road in 
immediate touch with the Tenth Corps. 

General von Yoigts-Ehetz had left two battalions at 
Mulsanne, for protection from Ecommoy ; the whole 
corps, after many unavoidable detachments had been 
detailed from it, was assembled by about half -past 
seven to march forward on Pontlieue. The main body 
of the 20th Division was to diverge along the Mulsanne 
road to go to La-Tuilerie. Three battahons of the 19th 
Division were to meet at Ruaudin to strengthen the 
detachment occupying Epinettes, while two battalions 
and the 14th Cavalry Brigade took the road to Parigne, 
with the corps' artillery, which could be of no service 
in the plain further to the left. 

Reinforcements had meanwhile arrived at Ruaudin, 
and Greneral von Woyna made his way without hin- 
drance through the woods to La-Source, where he 
halted at one o'clock, having formed line on the 20th 
Division. These had already brought a heavy battery 
into action, driving back the French mitraiUeuses be- 
yond Pontlieue. On the right, a hght battery of the 
19th Division was brought up to La-Source, and ten 
horse-artillery guns as far as the Parigne road. The 
atmosphere was, however, so thick that their fire could 
only be directed by the map. 

At two o'clock Greneral von Kraatz advanced in close 
column on Pontlieue, whither General von Woyna was 
now also marching. The southern side of the village 
was taken after a short struggle 5 but on the further 


side of the Huisne the French held the houses along 
the river-bank, and just as the Grermans had reached 
the bridge it was blown up. The demolition, however, 
was not complete, and the foremost battalions got 
across over the debris to get at the enemy. Two made 
their way down the high street, one turned to the left, 
to the railway station, whence came the sound of sig- 
nals for departing trains. There was nothing to hinder 
the iron railway -bridge from being blown up, and by 
this means many prisoners were taken, besides 150 
provision wagons and 1000 hundred-weight of flour. 

The artillery were next directed to fire on the town 
of Le-Mans. 

Meanwhile the detachments which had become mixed 
up in the fight in the wood had reformed, and joined 
the Third Corps. After a ration of meat, the first for 
three days, had been served out to all the troops, the 
10th Brigade resumed its march. The battahon of 
Brandenburg Jagers crossed the river by the paper- 
mill of L'Epau, and two batteries at Chateau-Funay 
contributed to the fii'ing on Le-Mans. 

When, soon after, the infantry entered the town, a 
fierce struggle began in the streets, blocked as they 
were by the baggage-trains of the French. Access to 
the houses had to be cleared by artiHery ; a large num- 
ber of French were taken prisoners, and a vast quantity 
of supplies seized. The fighting went on till night-fall, 
and then the Tenth Corps and half of the Third took 
up alarm quarters in the town. The 6th Division took 
possession of Yvre, which the enemy had abandoned, 
and placed outposts at Les-Noyers and Les- Arches on 
the further side of the Huisne. 

The actions fought by the French on this day had 
been arranged for the sole purpose of giving the army 
time to set out. 


On learning from Admiral Jaureguiberry that every 
effort to get the troops to advance had failed, and that 
the last reserves were shattered, Greneral Chanzy had, 
at eight that morning, issued orders for a general re- 
treat on Alen^on. Here the Minister of War had 
arranged for the simultaneous arrival of two divisions 
of the Nineteenth Corps from Carentan. 

The march of the Second Army on Le-Mans had 
been a series of seven days' incessant fighting. It had 
fallen at a season when the winter was most severe. 
Smooth ice and snow-drifts had hampered every move- 
ment. Bivouacking was out of the question; the 
troops had to seek their night quarters often at a dis- 
tance of some miles in their rear ; their re-assembhng 
in the morning wasted precious hours, and then the 
shortness of the day prevented their taking full ad- 
vantage of their successes. Whole battalions were 
employed merely in guarding the prisoners. The roads 
were in such a state that baggage could not be brought 
up ; officers and men alike marched in insufficient cloth- 
ing and on reduced rations. But spii'it, endurance, 
and discipline had conquered every difficulty. 

The Germans had sacrificed in this prolonged strug- 
gle 3200 men and 200 officers, the larger half belonging 
to the Third Corps alone. Several companies fought 
under the command of non-commissioned officers. 

The French estimated their losses at 6200 men, and 
20,000 taken prisoners; seventeen guns, two colors, 
and an abundant supply of materiel remained as 
trophies in the hands of the \actors. 

After such severe efforts the troops imperatively 
needed some rest. The orders from head-quarters 
were that the operations were not to be extended be- 
yond a certain area of country; aod the Second Army 

might almost immediately be required on the Seine 



and the Loire. Prince Frederick Charles therefore 
determined to follow up the retreating enemy with 
only a small force. 

On the French side, if each corps was to have an 
independent road for escape to Alen^on, two corps 
must necessarily start to the westward. And on the 
evening of the last day's fight the Sixteenth Corps had 
reached Chauffour on the Laval road, and the Seven- 
teenth was at Mayenne on the way to Conlie, each 
protected by its rear-guard. The Twenty-first was 
assembled at Ballon, to the east of the Sarthe. From 
these points all were to march northwards. General 
Chanzy still deluded himself with the hope of getting 
on by Evreux to the assistance of the besieged capital. 
He would have, indeed, to make a wide circuit — a bow 
to which the Germans could easily have formed the 
string in a much shorter time ; and in the condition in 
which his troops now were, across a country where all 
arms could be brought into action, they must have 
been annihilated. In short, the conquered army was 
already driven to the west of the Sarthe. 

After distributing rations to men and horses. Gen- 
eral von Schmidt set forth at midday on the 13th with 
four battalions, eleven squdarons, and ten guns, and 
reached Chauffour after some skirmishing. The Thir- 
teenth Corps (German) advanced to the Sarthe, the 17th 
Division sending their outposts across the river at 
Neuville, and the 22nd driving the French out of 
Ballon, whence they retired completely routed to Beau- 
mont. The Twenty-first Corps (French) had taken up 
quarters this day at Sille. The National Guards from 
Brittany fled wildly to Coron, and thence back into 
their own province. They were joined by the troops 
left in camp at Conlie, after they had plundered the 
camp. The Seventeenth Corps also went off, without 


halting by the Vegi'e, as they had been ordered to do, 
but marching straight on to Ste. Suzanne. The Six- 
teenth withdrew on Laval, leaving Barry's division at 
Chassille to protect theu' rear. Numbers of abandoned 
baggage- wagons, and cast-away arms, testified to the 
condition of the defeated army. 

On the 14th the French were driven out of Chassille. 
The Sixteenth Corps were by this time in dire confu- 
sion; they retired during the night to St.-Jean-sur- 
Erve. In the camp at Conlie 8000 rifles had been 
abandoned, with 5,000,000 cartridges, and various 
other warlike stores. 

The Grand Duke had marched on AlenQon along the 
right bank of the Sarthe. The French advanced guard 
of the 22nd Division made a slight stand at Beaumont 
and lost 1400 prisoners. 

On the following day General von Schmidt made 
further progress on the road to Laval, but he found 
that the French had concentrated at St. Jean and had 
posted a strong force of artillery on the heights beyond 
the Erve. The Oldenburg Regiment forced its way as 
far as the church of the little town, and the Bruns- 
wickers drove the enemy back on Ste. Suzanne, higher 
up the river, but there the pursuit ended. 

Although Barry's and Deplanque's divisions had 
now no more than 6000 fighting men, by the French 
estimate, and Curten's division had not yet come up, 
the German force at hand was very considerably in- 
ferior. The rest of the Tenth Corps was moving up 
to their support, but had as yet only reached Chassille. 
A battahon proceeding from Conlie came into conflict 
at Sille with the Twenty-first Corps (French) assembled 
there, and sustained heavy loss. The 22nd Division 
of the Thirteenth Corps also met with serious oppo- 
sition before reaching Alen^on, from the National 


Gruards and Volunteers under Lipowski ; so the attack 
on the town was postponed till next day. 

But on the following morning the French position 
in AlenQon was evacuated, as well as Sille and St. 
Jean. The places were at once occupied by the G-er- 
mans, and Greneral von Schmidt marched on, close to 
Laval. Numerous stragglers from the retreating army 
were taken prisoners. 

Curten's division had now reached the western bank 
of the Mayenne, and there the remnants of the Army 
of the Loire re-assembled. Reduced to half its origi- 
nal strength, and very greatly demoralized, it would 
be liors de combat for some time to come, and the 
object of the German march on Le-Mans was fully 

To the north of Paris, however, the French were 
again preparing to attack. It was needful to withdraw 
those divisions of the First which were still on the 
Lower Seine, in the direction of the Somme; and 
orders came from head-quarters that the Thirteenth 
Corps of the Second Army should march on Rouen. 
On the Upper Loire two French detachments had been 
sent to attack the Hessians holding positions about 
Briare, and had di'iven them back, on the 14th, to 
Ouzouer; while from Sologne cam^ a report of the 
advance of a newly-constitued French Army Corps — 
the Twenty-fifth. 

The Glerman Ninth Corps, after evacuating and raz- 
ing the camp at Conlie, was therefore sent to reinforce 
Orleans. The remainder of the Second Army, the 
Third and Tenth Corps, with the three cavalry divis- 
ions — about 27,000 foot, 9000 horse, and 186 guns — 
were assembled under Prince Frederick Charles round 
Le-Mans. The cavalry, placed as a corps of observa- 
tion in the front and on the flanks, had several small 


skirmishes, but no further serious hostilities were 

The 4th Cavahy Division held Alengon on the right, 
and on the left Gleneral von Hartmann entered Tours 
without any opposition. 


At the beginning of the New Year a considerable 
part of the First Army (German) was engaged in in- 
vesting Peronne, which would have afforded a safe 
passage for the debouching of the French over to the 
southern bank of the Somme. General Barnekow had 
laid siege to the little town with the 3rd Reserve Divis- 
ion and the 31st Brigade of infantry. Hitherto it had 
only been kept under observation by cavahy, but re- 
cent circumstances had raised it to importance. So 
much of the Eighth Corps as was available on the 
Somme formed, for the protection of the besiegers 
on the north, a wide curve from Amiens as far as 

The First Corps, posted at Rouen, at first consisted 
only of three brigades; but the Fourth was on the 
march from Peronne, where it had now been relieved. 
No reinforcement of the First Army had been effected ; 
the 14th Division, after reducing Mezieres and taking 
Rocroy, had received fresh orders from Versailles 
which transferred it to another field of action. 

General Faidherbe had concentrated his troops from 
the rest-camp south of Arras, behind the Scarpe, and 
had begun his forward march on 2nd January. He 
advanced with the Twenty-second Corps to the rehef 
of Peronne through Bucquoy. The Twenty-third fol- 
lowed by the high-road to Bapaume. As early as 
haK-past ten the Derroja Division of the former corps 
obliged the 3rd Cavahy Division, as well as those 


battalions of the 32nd Brigade which had been at- 
tached to it, to retire on Miraumont, pursuing it, how- 
ever, only as far as Achiet-le-Petit. 

The other diAdsion, unded General Bessol, had only 
advanced towards Achiet-le-Grand in the afternoon. 
There he was opposed for several hours to two com- 
panies of the 68th, a detachment of hussars, and two 
guns, who retired towards evening on Avesnes. The 
French did not pursue, but established outposts at 

Payen's division had deployed at Behagnies, on the 
high-road, and its batteries opened fire on Sapignies, 
where, however. General von Strubberg had posted 
five battalions. These met the attack, and at two 
o'clock entered Behagnies with a rush, took 240 pris- 
oners, and prepared the village for defence. The 
enemy withdrew to Ervillers, and there once again 
showed front, but attempted no further attack. 

The other division of his Twenty-third Army Corps, 
consisting of mobiUzed National Guards, under General 
Eobin, had pressed forward on the left on Mory. 
There was only one battalion and a squadron of hus- 
sars to oppose them. By extending their line on the 
heights of Beugnatre, they succeeded in deceiving the 
enemy as to their numerical strength. The latter 
marched and counter-marched, and also brought up 
artillery, but did not attempt an attack, and remained 
at Mory. 

The 30th Brigade and the 3rd Cavalry Division took 
up their position for the night in and about Bapaume. 
The 29th Brigade occupied the neighboring villages on 
the right and the left of the Arras road. 



(January 3rd.) 

General Faidherbe had brought his forces close up to 
a position covered by the siege of Peronne. His four 
divisions consisted of fifty-seven battalions, opposed 
by only seventeen German battalions. He decided on 
the 3rd to push on in four columns to Grevillers, Bief- 
villers, on the high-road, and to Favreuil on the east. 

But General von Goeben was not inclined to give up 
his position at Bapaume. During the occupation of 
Favreuil, General von Kummer brought up the 30th 
Brigade in front of the town, and behind it the 29th, 
of which, however, three battalions were left in the 
villages to left and to the right. A reserve was estab- 
hshed further to the rear, at Transloy, whither the 8th 
Rifle Battalion, with two batteries, was detached ; and 
General von Barnekow received orders to hold three 
battalions and the 26th Division of foot in readiness 
at Sailly-Saillisel, without raising the blockade. Then 
the division under Prince Albrecht, Jun. — three bat- 
talions, eight squadrons, and three batteries — advanced 
on Bertincourt, near to the battle-field. In this order, 
in severe cold and gloomy weather, they were to await 
the attack of the French. 

General Count von der Groeben had already sent the 
7th Cavalry Brigade against the enemy's right flank, 
but it did not succeed in forcing its way through those 
villages that were occupied by the enemy's infantry. 

At Beugnatre, the right wing of the Robin Division 
was met by so sharp a fire from two battalions of the 
65th, and two horse artillery batteries that had joined 
them from Transloy, that it withdrew again on Mory, 
and the garrison of Favreuil was reinforced by two 


battalions and two batteries against the approach of 
the Payen Division, which was marching down the 
high-road to the east of that place. The first French 
gun that came out of Sapignies was immediately de- 
stroyed, but several batteries soon became engaged on 
both sides, and the French entered Favreuil and St. 

The 40th Regiment advanced to these places at noon 
from Bertincourt, and, after a lively action, occupied 
them ; yet had to evacuate Favreuil again, and a bat- 
tery of horse artillery took up a position alongside of 
the 2nd Regiment of Uhlans of the Guard close to 
Fremicourt, which secured the right of the division. 

On the left, Bessol's division had driven the weak 
garrison out of Biefvillers. The 1st Battalion of the 
33rd Regiment, which had set out to retake that place, 
became hotly engaged; it lost all but three of its 
ofl&cers, and had to retire upon Avesnes. The Derroja 
Division had also taken part in this fight. The French 
now brought a strong force of artillery to the front, 
and extended their firing-line to the south nearly as 
far as the road to Albert. 

Therefore, at midday, Greneral von Kummer decided 
to confine himself to the local defence of Bapaume. 
With some sacrifice, the artillery covered the move of 
the infantry thither. The 1st Heavy Battery, which 
was the last to withdi'aw, lost 2 officers, 97 men, and 
36 horses ; their guns could only be got away with the 
help of the infantry. 

The 29th Brigade now prepared for an obstinate 
defence of the old city wall. The 30th was posted be- 
hind the place, and the French advanced leisui-ely as 
far as the suburb. Then there was a cessation of hos- 
tilities. Greneral Faidherbe hoped to take the toAvn by 
further investing it, without exposing it to the horrors 


of a bombardment su(^li as precedes the taking of a 
place by storm. A brigade of the Derroja Division 
endeavored to advance through Tilloy, but met there 
with stubborn resistance from the Rifle battahon and 
two batteries which had arrived from Peronne, At 
the same time, twenty-four guns of the batteries that 
were posted behind Bapaume opened fire on the ad- 
vancing columns, which then withckew, at half-past 
three, by the road to Albert. They soon resumed the 
attack, and succeeded in entering Tilloy. All the 
neighboring batteries now opened fire iipon this place. 
Greneral von Mirus, who, when the 3rd Cavalry Divis- 
ion had passed through Miraumont, had been left be- 
hind there, seeing no enemy in his front, but hearing 
the fighting at Bapaume, advanced from the west,' and 
General von Strubberg from the town, to resume the 
attack. The French did not await their arrival, and 
were driven both out of the suburb and Avesnes. The 
French detachments encamped for the night at Grevil- 
lers, Bihucourt, Favreuil, and Beugnatre, thus sur- 
rounding Bapaume on three sides. The day had cost 
the Germans 52 ofiicers and 698 men, and the French 
53 officers and 2066 men. 

But only by di'awing on every available resource of 
the Eighth Army Corps had it been possible to with- 
stand the preponderating attack of the enemy. It had 
not yet been possible to provide fresh ammunition, 
and General von Goeben decided to immediately shift 
the battle-field to behind the Somme. This movement 
was being executed when the patrols brought informa- 
tion that the enemy was also evacuating its neighbor- 
ing position. 

The French troops, as yet unaccustomed to active 
service, had suffered extremely from the day's fighting 
and the severe cold of the ensuing night. General 


Faidherbe could perceive that the forces before Peronne 
had been withdrawn to Bapaume, and that the Ger- 
mans thus reinforced would assume the defensive. 
His first object, the raising of the siege, had been ob- 
tained, and the Greneral thought it best not to endan- 
ger his success by a second encounter. He led his 
corps back in the direction of Arras. 

Of the German cavaky, the 8th Cuirassiers succeeded 
in breaking through a French square. The 15th 
Division withdrew behind the Somme to close under 
Peronne, and the Saxon cavahy joined the right wing 
at St. Quentin. 


Exactly at the same time the other corps of the 
First Army was engaged with the enemy on the Lower 
Seine, The French had not taken up any new posi- 
tion on the right bank of the river, but they held the 
wooded heights of Bois-de-la-Londe, which surround 
the southern defile of the Httle river-peninsula of 
Grand-Couronne. Here General von Bentheim, with a 
view of gaining ground in this direction, had posted 
half of the First Army Corps, and advanced on the 4th 
of January on Les Moulineaux. Before daybreak Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel von HliUessem surprised the enemy's 
outposts, stormed the fort of Chateau Eobert-le-Diable, 
and took prisoners those who had sought refuge amid 
the ruins of the castle ; and the heights of Maison Bru- 
let were scaled under a heavy fire from the enemy, who 
lost two guns on this occasion. After renewed fight- 
ing at St. Ouen, the French withdrew on Bourgachard 
in the afternoon, pursued towards six in the evening 
by half a squadron of dragoons, two guns, and a com- 
pany driven on wagons, who took from them two 12- 
pounders set up on the approach to Rougemontier, 


disabling the gunners and capturing an ammunition 

After a slight skirmish, the enemy had been driven 
out of Bourgtheroulde and thrown back in the direc- 
tion of Brionne. However, the French right wing at 
Elbeuf had, during the night, hastily withdrawn from 
a position rendered precarious by the wavering of the 
remaining detachments. The affair had cost 5 officers 
and 160 men. The loss of the French must have been 
equal, besides which they lost 300 prisoners and 4 

General Roye posted his troops behind the Eille 
on the Pont-Audemer — Brionne line, but the Grermans 
now held Bourgachard, Bourgtheroulde, and Elbeuf 
strongly garrisoned, with three battalions in readiness 
at Grand-Couronne for further security. The other 
troops returned to Rouen. / An attempted passage of 
the French from the northern bank of the Somme had 
already been averted at Fauville, whence they again 
withdrew to Harfleur. 

Meanwhile it had not escaped the observation of the 
Eighth Army Corps that this time the French did not 
seek to intrench themselves in the northern forts, but 
that they halted south of Arras, thus betraying an in- 
tention to shortly renew the attack on the investing 
forces of Peronne. 

General von Goeben therefore decided to pass over 
to the northern bank of the Somme, to their protec- 
tion, and to take up a flank position whose front the 
enemy would have to cross in its advance. 

On January 6th, after the troops had had one day's 
rest, and the ammunition had been replenished, the 30th 
Brigade advanced on Bray, the 29th on Albert. In 
close vicinity to the enemy was the 36th Cavalry Divis- 
ion at Bapaume, behind them the cavahy brigade of 


the Guard. To secure the left flank Lieutenant-Colonel 
von Pestel occupied Acheux, and the 3rd Reserve 
Division of the investing corps advanced west of the 
position on Feuilleres. The Corps Artillery remained 
meanwhile on the left bank of the Somme, for it 
almost seemed as if the enemy were preparing an at- 
tack on Amiens. 

But during the next day the French did not under- 
take anything of importance, and on the 9th Peronne 


For fourteen days this little place had been invested 
by eleven battalions, sixteen squadrons, and ten bat- 
teries. Flooded meadows on one side, and on the other 
walls with medieval towers had secured it against sur- 
prise ; yet it was commanded on all sides by overhang- 
ing heights. 

Still the fire of fifty-eight German guns had not done 
much damage, and in any case must soon have been 
given up for want of ammunition ; the fire with capt- 
ured French materiel remained without result. The 
fort continued its fire, and its garrison of only 3500 
men even attempted sorties. As before mentioned, on 
the day of the battle of Bapaume, a portion of the 
besieging troops had been obliged to Vithdraw to the 
support of the Eighth Army Corps, and in the un- 
certainty as to the result of this fight it had been 
necessary to take precautions for the parking of the 
siege materiel. The troops that remained behind were 
in marching order, and part of the heavy guns had 
been withdrawn. But the garrison of the place kept 
on its guard. 

Two days later a siege-train of fifty-five heavy guns 
arrived at La-Fere. A second, of twenty-eight, laden 
with French ammunition, was on the way from Me- 


zieres. The preliminaries of a regular siege were ac- 
complished, and when at last, on the 8th of January, a 
large ammunition-transport arrived, the Commandant 
was summoned to give up a defence that had become 

On the 10th of January General von Barnekow en- 
tered the fortress so amply provided with arms, am- 
munition, and provisions. The garrison were made 

On the 7th of January, his Majesty the King had 
summoned General von Manteuffel to another part of 
the theatre of war, and had given the supreme com- 
mand of the First Army Corps to General von Goeben. 

Freed from all care as to Peronne, his only mission 
thenceforward was the protection of the siege of Paris. 
For this purpose the Somme, whose passages were all 
in the hands of the Germans, formed a natural bul- 
wark, behind which even the attack of a superior 
enemy could be met. And some reinforcements now 
arrived for the Eighth Army Corps. The peaceful 
condition of the Lower Seine permitted of two infan- 
try regiments and two batteries being sent from thence 
to Amiens. At head-quarters an infantry brigade of 
the Meuse Ai'my Corps was held in readiness, which in 
case of need was to precede them by rail. 

It was still a matter of uncertainty where the enemy 
would strike the first blow. General von Goeben, 
therefore, spread his forces behind the Somme on a 
ten-mile line, still holding the places he had acquired 
to the front of the river, so that if needful he could 
proceed to attack. In the middle of the month, the 
portions of the Ninth Army Corps under the command 
of General Count von der Groeben occupied Amiens, 
Corbie, and the Hallue line in a flank position. The 
15th Division, holding Bray, took up its quarters south 


of this place. Next to them, on the left of Peronne, 
were the 36th Reserves, to the right the 16th Division, 
and the 3rd Reserve Cavalry Brigade, holding Roi^el 
and Vermand, in front. The 12th Cavahy Division 
was at St. Quentin. 

The French Army had already begun to move on the 
Cambrai high-road, and its Twenty-second Corps had 
forced back the 3rd Cavalry Division first out of Ba- 
paume and Albert and then back on the Hallue. The 
Twenty-third followed the same road, and their goal 
really appears to have been Amiens. But a reconnois- 
sance had enlightened them as to the difficulty of 
attacking in that direction, besides which a telegram 
from the War Minister announced that the Paris Army 
would make a last supreme effort to break the bonds 
of the blockade, and the Army of the Nord was enjoined 
to draw, as far as possible, the attention of the enemy's 
forces towards itself and away from the capital. 

According to these orders, General Faidherbe decided 
to advance on St. Quentin without delay, whither the 
Isnard Brigade was already marching from Cambrai. 
The attack on the right wing of the Germans, consist- 
ing for the time being solely of cavalry, endangered 
their communications, while the vicinity of the north- 
ern forts offered the French Army shelter, and also 
gi'eater liberty of action. 

But General von Goeben had foreseen this with- 
drawal of the enemy on the left, and had concentrated 
all his forces to meet it. 

The convalescents who were fit for service were 
attached. Only weak detachments were left at Amiens, 
and through the approach of the Thirteenth Corps, 
from the Sarthe to the Lower Seine, it was easy to 
transfer the 3rd Grenadier Regiment and a heavy bat- 
tery to the Somme. 


The withdrawal of the French from Albert and the 
march of their army corps on Comhles and Sailly-Sail- 
lisel were soon reported by the reconnoitring of the 
cavah-y. A newly-formed Pauly Brigade occupied 
Bapaume, and the Isnard Brigade entered St. Quentin, 
when Greneral zur Lippe, according to orders received, 
retired on Ham. At this juncture, General von Goe- 
ben set out in an eastern direction, using the roads on 
both banks of the Somme so that he might the sooner 
come up with the enemy. 

(January 17th.) On the 17th, the 12th Cavalry Bri- 
gade advanced on La-Fere, the 16th on Ham. The 
3rd Reserve Division and the Cavalry Brigade of the 
Guard arrived at Nesle; the 15th Division and the 
Corps Artillery, at Villers-Carbonnel. An Army Re- 
serve had been formed out of the troops last from 
Rouen, which followed to Harbonnieres. On the north- 
ern bank, the detachment under Count von der Groe- 
ben advanced close to Peronne, 

The four French divisions had so far advanced on 
Vermand that they were enabled to effect a junction 
next day at St, Quentin. The Twenty-third Army 
Corps was to retire straight upon the town, the Twenty- 
second to cross the Somme lower down, and take up a 
position south of St. Quentin. 

(January 18th.) On the German side, the 16th and 
the 3rd* Reserve Division advanced on Jussy and 
Flavy, on the southern bank of the Somme, the Army 
Reserves on Ham. The 12th Cavalry Division at Ven- 
deuil found the country east of the Oise stiU free from 
the enemy. 

On the other hand, the 15th Division was to cross 
the Somme at Brie, and advance, together with the 
troops of General Count von der Groeben, on Vermand 
and Etreillers, with a view of obtaining touch of the 


approaching enemy. General von Kummer had been 
enjoined, in case he found that the French had taken 
up a position, merely to watch them and foUow them 
should they retire north, but should they march 
towards the south, to attack them in force. 

At half -past ten, the 29th Brigade came up on this 
side of Tertry with the rear-guard of the Twenty- 
second Corps and its train. The hussars broke 
through one of the screening battalions, drove the 
wagons in the greatest disorder back on Caulaincourt, 
but had to abandon prisoners and loot under the fire 
of the approaching infantry. The French brigade had 
changed front, and now advanced to the attack of Tres- 
con. This was resisted by the 65th Eegiment and 
three batteries until after two o'clock, when G-eneral 
du Bessol, who had just arrived on the scene of action, 
ordered the march on St. Quentin to be resumed. 

The Twenty-third had also halted and detached a 
brigade against the left flank of the 15th Division. 
This, however, on reaching Cauvigny Farm, came 
upon the German battalions, which, after protracted 
firing, pursued the retreating enemy and entered Cau- 
laincourt at half -past three, making 100 prisoners and 
capturing fourteen provision wagons. 

Meanwhile Count von der Groeben had hastened 
forward at the sound of firing. The General realized 
that he could help most efficaciously by marching 
straight on Yermand. Four battalions marched on 
Poeuilly, which was occupied by the enemy, and when 
the 4th Grenadiers came up to the assault the French 
retreated, losing some prisoners. Many Gardes Mo- 
biles were dispersed by the Uhlans. But at Vermand 
the whole of the Twenty-third Corps had begun its 

Count von der Groeben therefore posted his troops 


behind the Poeuilly ground, thereby occasioning the 
retiring troops to immediately front whenever pressed. 
The 15th Division had taken up quarters at Beauvois 
and Caulaincourt. 

The sole aim which the French Generals appear to 
have had in view on that day was to reach St. Quentin. 
They neglected the opportunity of falling with their 
two corps upon the single 15tli Division. The Twenty- 
third Corps passed the night in and westward of St. 
Quentin, and likewise the Twenty-second, after cross- 
ing the Somme at Serancourt, south of that town. A 
further advance either on Paris or on the German 
line of communications depended, now that the Ger- 
mans were so close upon them, on the issue of a bat- 
tle ; and this, General Faidherbe wished to await at St. 

It was important that he should make a stand there, 
in case the Paris Army succeeded in breaking through 
the blockade. The ground offered certain advantages 
— the heights in front of the town facilitated firing and 
offered covered shelter to the reserves. Although the 
Somme divided the army in two halves, the Bridge of 
St. Quentin secured to both mutual aid. The enemy 
also occupied two sides of the river, and including the 
now newly-joined Isnard and Pauly Brigades, they 
counted 40,000 men, against an enemy numerically 
weaker. The Germans, all counted, numbered 32,580 
combatants, nearly 6000 being cavahy. 


(19th January.) 

General von Goeben had ordered the general attack 
for the 19th. 

General von Barnekow advanced along the southern 


bank of the Somme (during the occupation of Seran- 
court) with the 16th, and the 3rd Reserve Division 
from Jussy on Essigny; the 12th Cavahy Division 
advanced on the road which led to La Fere. 

The French columns were still marching to take up 
their position so as to have the town on their rear ; 
and they already occupied Grrugies. While the 32nd 
Brigade marched north to Essigny — the Reserve Divis- 
ion halting behind the place — the 31st Brigade started 
at a quarter to ten for Grugies. 

This attack was flanked by the French brigade under 
Gislain, which had meanwhile occupied the positions 
of Contescourt and Castres. Its front was met by the 
brigades under Foerster and Pittie. 

The fii'e of the approaching German batteries was 
at once returned vigorously from Le-Moulin-de-Tout- 
Vent. At eleven o'clock the second battalion of the 
69th Regiment formed into company columns, to cross 
the entirely open ground towards the heights between 
them and Grugies; but the attempt, which was re- 
newed four times, was frustrated by the annihilating 
cross-fire of the enemy. The isolated battalion was 
nearly exhausted, and only on being joined by six fresh 
companies of the 29th Regiment did it succeed in forc- 
ing the French back, after a desperate hand-to-hand 
fight ; but the latter made a stand before Grugies and 
its sugar factory. 

On the right wing, the 12th Cavahy Division had 
preceded the others on the La-Fere road. The French 
brigade under Aynes, which had hitherto been held 
in reserve, pushed forward at the double to meet it, and 
as Count zur Lippe could dispose of but one battalion 
of infantry, the movement was arrested at Cornet- 
d'Or. But when, at noon, they were joined by rein- 
forcements from Tergnier, the Saxon Rifles stormed 


the park on tlie high-road, and the Schleswig-Holstein 
Fusihers stormed La-Neuville. The French, after los- 
ing many prisoners, were vigorously pursued back to 
the outskirts of St. Quentin, the first place which 
afforded them shelter. 

Meantime, the 31st Brigade was engaged in a hot fire 
on both sides of the railway line before Grugies ; behind 
its right wing was posted the 32nd, in the valley near 
the high-road, where it suffered severely from the 
enemy's shrapnel. On the left, the advancing detach- 
ment had not succeeded in entering Contescourt ; and 
now the French at Grugies made so determined and 
overwhelming an attack, that the 16th Division had to 
be withdi'awn as far as Essigny. 

When, after twelve o'clock. General Faidherbe joined 
the Twenty-third Corps, he had every reason to hope 
that the Twenty-second Corps would be able to main- 
tain its position. But certainly the most important 
result was to be looked for on the northern portion of 
the battle-field. 

Here Robin's division had taken up a position be- 
tween Fayet and Francilly. The brigade under Isnard 
had joined it on the left, the brigade under Lagrange 
of Payen's division extended its line as far as the 
Somme. At Gricourt the Michelet brigade remained 
behind in reserve, and the brigade under Pauly secured 
the communications in rear. 

As early as eight o'clock General Count von der 
Groeben (on the German left) set out on the Roman 
road from Poeuilly with eight battalions and twenty- 
eight guns ; on the left the cavahy brigade accompanied 
the march. 

The East-Prussians immediately drove the French 
out of Holnon and Selency, and then advanced against 
Fayet and up the heights of Moulin-Coutte. A gun 


that was being served, ammunition wagons, and many 
prisoners were then taken from the enemy. 

By degrees the twenty-eight guns all reached the 
mill on the height and opened a duel with the artillery 
of Robin's division. But after half an hour the ammu- 
nition failed, for the wagons which had been sent on 
the previous day to the Eighth Corps had not yet come 
up to the relief. The batteries, which were, moreover, 
suffering from the fire of the infantry, had to retire on 
Holnon, and as Francilly was still occupied by the 
enemy in flank and rear, a further advance was tem- 
porarily postponed. 

On the right, General von Kummer with the 15th 
Division had ah'eady begun the march from Beauvois, 
and had reached Etreillers at ten. The King's Hus- 
sars, after driving back the enemy's horse, di*ew up 
near to L'Epine-de-Dallon, and the 29th Brigade en- 
tered Savy. North of that place three batteries opened 
fire against the artillery of Pay en's division, and then 
the 65th Regiment advanced to the attack of the sur- 
rounding woods. The smaller one to the south was 
taken, but here, as at Francilly, the Isnard Brigade 
established itself in the larger one to the north. 

At noon the brigade under Lagrange advanced on 
the small wood and soon entered it, but was again 
driven back by the 65th. 

The 33rd Regiment was posted in readiness to secure 
the threatened right flank of the 29th Brigade, and 
with those already under fire was joined by two heavy 
batteries which had just come with the Corps Artillery 
from Savy. At the same time the 30th Brigade ad- 
vanced from Roupy on the right of the 29th. 

Meanwhile, Colonel von Massow had, at one o'clock, 
again assumed the offensive against the much more 
advanced enemy's left. Six companies of the 44th 


Regiment advanced on Fayet, and opening fire at the 
shortest range, drove the French from the field. They 
were followed by two batteries, who resumed action 
against the great artillery position at Moulin-de-Cepy. 

General Paulze D'lvoy, who saw his communications 
with Cambrai in such imminent danger, had already 
summoned the brigade under Michelet from its reserve 
post, west of the town, and thus reinforced now ad- 
vanced on Fayet. Those Prussian detachments that 
were in the place had to be withdrawn to Moulin- 
Coutte ; but the further advance of the enemy towards 
this height was met by a flank attack on Selency, and 
at the same time the farm of Bois-des-Roses was car- 
ried. The French again withdrew on Fayet. 

There, at Francilly, and in the northern stretch of 
wood, they held their own until half -past one, while 
at that time, on the G-erman side, the three brigades 
had been brought up into the fighting line. The Army 
Reserve had, indeed, advanced from Ham on Roupy, 
but General von Goeben, who had from that spot 
observed the slow progress of the 16th Division, had 
already sent this Reserve through Serancourt to its 
relief at eleven o'clock. 

Colonel von Boecking, with his three battalions, 
three squadrons, and two batteries, advanced from 
there against Contescourt. Hastening forward with 
the cavalry, he brought his artillery into action ; the 
41st Regiment, upon its arrival, immediately moved 
forward to the attack. In communication with the 
battalion of the 19th Regiment which was already on 
the spot, the French were at one o'clock driven out of 
that place and out of Castres, with the loss of many 
prisoners, towards the heights of Grugies. Against 
these heights the fire of the artillery was now directed, 
having gradually been increased to thirty guns. 


So as to yet further dispute the position, General 
Lecomte reinforced Grislain's brigade by several bat- 
talions withdrawn from the brigades of Pittie and 

The East-Prussian Regiment succeeded, nevertheless, 
by half-past two o'clock, although itself attacked on 
all sides, in hurling back the enemy into the hollow in 
front of Grugies. 

Colonel von Boecking's vigorous attack was conspic- 
uous along the whole line. 

With a view to again undertaking a general advance, 
General von Barnekow now ordered up his last reserves 
from Essigny, when towards three o'clock Pittie's bri- 
gade unexpectedly pressed forward along the line of 
railway. With his right under the fire of the artillery 
posted at Castres, he allowed his left to be surprised 
by the charge of five squadrons of the reserve cavalry 
at Urvilliers. Simultaneously Colonel von Hartzberg 
now advanced with the 32nd Brigade, and drove the 
enemy back to Moulin-de-Tout-Vent. 

But Foerster's brigade, south of Grugies, had held 
out stubbornly, although now seriously threatened on 
the left from Giff ecourt, as well as by the 12th Cavahy 
Division. With the retreat of Pittie's brigade now 
completely exposing their left flank, and their last 
troops exhausted by a long struggle, the French found 
themselves finally forced to vacate their hard-contested 

The 31st Brigade advanced along the railway line as 
far as the sugar factory, and Colonel von Boecking 
drove the last French detachments out of Grugies. 
He then opened his attack upon Moulin-de-Tout-Vent 
with his artillery. Up these heights the 41st Battalion, 
ordered up from Essigny, and the 32nd Brigade ad- 
vanced in a combined attack. The French did not hold 


out much, longer, and were soon in retreat. The entire 
German front, with the 12th Cavahy Division on its 
right, moved forward on to the town, which now also 
suffered from the fire of the artillery posted at Gauchy. 
The cavalry repeatedly broke through the retreating 
portions of the enemy's force ; and the railway station 
and suburb, in which was found the rear-guard only of 
the Twentieth French Corps, fell after a short struggle. 

Whilst on the southern portion of the field of battle 
the action took this turn, the attack on the northern 
side had also been renewed. 

Already by two o'clock the 28th Regiment from 
Roupy had carried the farm-house of I'Epine-de-Dallon, 
on the Ham road ; and almost simultaneously Count 
von der Groeben's infantry came up to resume the 

Whilst on the right some companies of the 4th and 
44th Regiments opposed the debouching of the French 
out of the extensive woods. Major von Elpons, with 
six companies of the Crown Prince Grenadiers, ad- 
vanced from Holnon and Selency upon Franeilly, and, 
notwithstanding the hot fire of the defenders, forced 
an entrance into this most straggling village, in which 
many prisoners were made. As, however, the East- 
Prussian Regiment advanced yet further south of the 
Roman road, it had in its turn to sustain a formidable 

To cover their threatened line of retreat, Michelet's 
brigade from Foyet once -more advanced, and Pauly's 
brigade also marched upon Moulin-Coutte. This posi- 
tion, which had in the meantime been strengthened by 
artillery, was, however, obstinately contested by the 
44th Regiment, and when the Grenadier companies 
poured in from the left of the Roman road, the enemy's 
attack was here again repulsed. 


Meanwhile the 29th Brigade, followed by the 30th^ 
had begun to move on St. Quentin, having the 33rd 
Regiment on its right and the 65th Regiment on the 
left. The latter regiment now took complete posses- 
sion of the more extensive of the woods, and forty- 
eight guns were driven up on both sides of the road 
from Savy. The further advance of the infantry was 
effected in company column and in extended order, for 
the troops were suffering severely from the heavy 
grenade fire brought to bear upon them by the French. 
Howeverj the Lagrange and Isnard brigades did not 
await the assault, and at four o'clock retired on St. 
Quentin with the loss of one gun. 

The French artillery once more came into action at 
Rocourt, but at five o'clock had quickly to abandon 
the position, and the French now confined themselves 
to the defence of the barricaded entrances into the 
suburbs of St. Martin. 

Six Prussian batteries were brought up against 
these, and the 29th Brigade was for some time engaged 
under a hot fire of the strongly manned buildings and 
gardens ; whereupon several companies from Rocourt 
established themselves in the suburb, in which street- 
fighting was still continued, even when Lieutenant- 
Colonel von Hiillessem had succeeded in crossing the 
bridge over the canal, and entered the town itself. 

By four o'clock, General Faidherbe had already con- 
cluded that the Twenty-third Corps would in all prob- . 
ability be unable to hold its position. Under these 
circumstances, his choice was limited between a night 
retreat, or throwing himself into St. Quentin. He had 
not yet come to any decision, when he met in the town 
Greneral Lecointe, who reported that he had abandoned 
the defence of the left bank of the Somme. Thanks to 
the resistance still offered by the Twenty-third Corps 


on the north, the Twenty-second was enabled to re- 
tire unmolested on Le-Cateau. 

The officer in supreme command now ordered Geu' 
eral Paulze d'lvoy to retire on that place, but the latter 
only received the order at six in the evening, when the 
brigades on the right wing — Pauly's and Michelet's — 
had already been routed in the direction of Cambrai. 
The more obstinately the two remaining brigades now 
defended the subui'b of St. Martin, the more critical 
for them must prove the result of the action. Attacked 
in rear by the battalion under Colonel von Boecking, 
the gi'eater portion were made prisoners. The 41st 
Eegiment alone took 54 officers and 2260 men prisoners, 
besides capturing 4 guns. General Faidherbe only 
escaped a similar fate through the instrumentality of 
the inhabitants. 

The action only ceased at haK-past six that evening, 
and the troops passed the night in the town and in the 
captured villages. 

The hard-won victory had cost the Germans 96 offi- 
cers and 2304 men; 3000 wounded Frenchmen were 
found on the scene of action, and the number of un- 
wounded prisoners exceeded 9000. 

According to theory, pursuit should invariably fol- 
low on a victory — a law recognized by all, and particu- 
larly acquiesced in by novices ; and yet, in practice it 
is seldom observed. Military history points to few 
examples, such as the well-known one of La-Belle- 
Alliance. It requires a very strong and pitiless will to 
impose fresh exertions and dangers upon a body of 
troops who have marched, fought, and fasted for ten 
or twelve hours, instead of the longed-for rest and 
food. But given the existence of this supposed will, 
pursuit will yet depend on the circumstances under 
which the victory has been obtained. It wiU be diffi- 


cult of execution when all the units on the field of 
battle, as at Koniggratz, have become so intermixed 
that it requires hours to again reform them into tactical 
bodies ; or when, as at St. Quentin, all, even the troops 
last committed to action, have become so entangled 
that not one single tactically complete infantry force 
is available. "Without the support of such a body, 
cavahy at night will be delayed by every obstacle and 
every small post of the enemy, and by itself can sel- 
dom fulfil the task. 

General von Goeben did not pursue the enemy till 
the following day. His advanced cavahy fought up to 
the suburbs of Cambrai and the glacis of Landrecies, 
without meeting with any resistance, and they brought 
in merely some hundred stragglers. The infantry 
divisions pursued within one mile (thi*ee English) of 
Cambrai. Against this fortress nothing could be un- 
dertaken through want of siege material, and there 
was no military advantage to be derived in extending 
further north. Among the news to hand, it transpired 
that a considerable portion of the French Northern 
Army had retired upon Lille, Douai, and Valenciennes. 
As fresh enterprises were consequently not to be ex- 
pected, General von Goeben brought ^lis force back to 
the Somme, where towards the end of the month they 
entered upon their winter quarters, between Amiens 
and St. Quentin. 

On the Lower Seine, the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg 
had entered Eouen with the Thirteenth Corps on the 
25th, after having encountered on the march only a 
few franctireurs. Although General Loysel had in- 
creased his force to nearly 30,000 through the reinforce- 
ments from Cherbourg, he had remained entirely in- 

General von Goeben had in view the transfer to the 


Army of the Somme of that portion of the First Corps 
still before Rouen; but this was disapproved of by 
telegram from head-quarters, who, on political grounds, 
ordered its further retention there. 


Investment ofBelfort. — At the south-eastern seat of 
war, the forces detailed to operate against Belf ort had 
only been gradually brought together under cover of 
the Fom'teenth Army Corps. 

The town is surrounded by a bastioned enceinte. 
The citadel, standing upon high rocks, has the advan- 
tage of a great command, and for more effective fire 
its surrounding works are terraced. On the left bank 
of the Savoureuse newly erected lines of works pro- 
tected the suburb and railway station. On the adjacent 
heights to the north-east the forts of La-Miotte and 
La- Justice, connected to the main work by continuous 
lines, enclosed a spacious intrenched camp. The two 
forts of Les-Perches might certainly have threatened 
the safety of the site, approaching the citadel as they 
do on the south, to within only 1000 metres, from 
whence the works on the left bank of the river come 
under the direct fire of its guns. But here two walled 
forts had been erected before the advent of the enemy, 
and besides these the adjoining woods and positions, 
as for instance Perouse and Danjoutin, had been in- 
trenched ; nor was the fortress deficient in bomb-proof 
places. It was armed with 341 heavy guns, and pro- 
visioned for five months. As immediately after the 
opening of the campaign the Seventh French Corps 
had vacated Alsace, only about 5000 Gardes Mobiles 
remained behind in Belf ort, whose garrison, however, 
increased by the National Guard, now exceeded 17,000. 


The far-seeing Commandant, Colonel Denf ert, exerted 
all his resources mainly in the occupation in force of 
the zone in his immediate front. The advanced detach- 
ments were every day assigned fresh operations, which 
the artillery of the fortress had to support at extreme 

Opposed to him. General von Tresckow could, in the 
first place, only dispose of twenty weak Landwehr 
battalions, five squadrons, and six field batteries, mak- 
ing an aggregate of barely 15,000. At first, he had to 
confine himself to a mere investment. The troops 
intrenched themselves in the distantly radiating vil- 
lages, and were called upon to repel many sorties. 

Orders had been received from army head-quarters 
to undertake the regular investment of the fortress. 
To Greneral von Mertens was entrusted the direction 
of the engineer duties, and to Lieutenant-Colonel 
Scheliha, the command of the artillery. 

The difiiculties of the undertaking were apparent. 
The rocky nature of the soil could not but increase the 
labor of throwing up earthworks, and the cold season 
was approaching. The assault could only be delivered 
successfully on the south of the main work — the for- 
midable citadel. At this period only fifty heavy guns 
were available, and the infantry was not even strong 
enough to efiiciently invest the place on all sides. 

Under these circumstances, it was left to the discre- 
tion of Greneral von Tresckow to attempt the possibility 
of reducing Belfort by mere bombardment. Towards 
this purpose the attack was chiefly directed on the 
western side, in which quarter, after the enemy's gar- 
rison had been driven out of Valdoye, the infantry 
occupied Essert and Bavilliers, as well as the adjacent 
wooded heights. 

On December 2nd, seven batteries were constructed 


on the plateau between these two villages, by 3000 men, 
under cover of two battalions. The hard-frozen ground 
added to the difficulties of the task ; yet, notwithstand- 
ing the moonlight night, these operations would appear 
to have escaped the attention of the besieged. When 
on the following morning the sun had dispersed the 
fog and lit up the fortress, fire was opened upon it. 

The fortress replied at first but feebly, but afterwards 
with increasing vigor, from the entire line of works, 
up to within 4000 metres of the forts of La-Miotte and 
La-Justice, and the losses in the trenches were con- 

Nevertheless, four fresh batteries were constructed 
in advance of Bavilliers, and on the fall of La-Tuilerie 
the infantry pressed on until within 150 metres of the 
enemy's most advanced trenches. 

They succeeded also in causing a conflagration within 
the town; but the ammunition was soon exhausted, 
whilst from the high citadel an effective fire was un- 
ceasingly kept up, and there were constantly renewed 
sorties on the part of the garrison to be repelled. It 
was now clear, after all previous attempts had failed, 
that no assault could prove successful unless systemat- 
ically carried out. 

Colonel von Ostrowski, to the south, had, on Decem- 
ber 13th, carried the French positions of Adelnans and 
the wooded heights of Le-Bosmont and La-Brosse. To 
the east of the latter place two batteries, and on the 
northern skirt four additional batteries had been 
thrown up, not without great difficulty arising from 
thaw having bogged the soil. On January 7th fifty 
guns opened fire. 

The superiority of the artillery of the attack was 
soon manifest. Fort Bellevue suffered severely, and 
the fire from Basses-Perches was entirely silenced. 


But more important than all, the village of Danjoutin, 
strongly garrisoned and intrenched by the enemy, 
opposed all further advance. During the night of the 
8th January, seven companies attacked this position 
on the northern side, at the same time occupying the 
railway embankment. With empty riiEles, the Land- 
wehr posted themselves against the hot fire of the 
French, and broke into the streets up to the church 
itself. The supports hastening from the fort were 
driven back at the railway embankment, but the fight 
went on around the buildings in the southern quarter 
of the village till towards noon. Of the defenders, 
twenty ofS.eers and 700 men were taken prisoners. 

Typhus and small-pox had broken out in Belf ort ; 
but with the besieging force also the number of the 
sick reached a considerable figure, caused by arduous 
work undertaken in inclement weather. 

As a rule, the battahons could only muster 500 
strong, and this led General von Tresckow to devote 
half the number to securing the investment from with- 
out, principally on the south. 

Trustworthy intelligence estimated the French 
strength at Besangon at 62,000. Although hitherto 
entirely inactive, they now evinced a strong desire to 
press on to the relief of the hard-pressed fortress, by 
the line of the Doubs. 

The fortified castle of Montbeliard was held by one 
battalion, and armed with heavy guns. Between the 
Doubs and the Swiss frontier, at Delle, General 
Debschitz had taken up a position with eight battahons, 
two squadrons, and two batteries, and General von 
Werder concentrated the Fourteenth Corps at Noroy, 
Aillevans, and Athesans, to oppose in strength any 
movement on the part of the garrison. 

From January 5th onwards there were fought before 


Vesoul a series of engagements, in which the besiegers 
advanced from the south and west up to within a dis- 
tance of one mile of that town. There could be no 
doubt that very considerable forces were engaged in 
these operations. East of the Ognon, the enemy's 
posts were advanced as far as Rougemont, although in 
lesser force. In these actions 500 were taken prisoners ; 
and it was at once evident that besides the Eighteenth, 
also the Twenty-fourth and Twentieth Corps formed 
part of Boui'baki's army ; and this circumstance sud- 
denly threw a new light upon a totally changed phase 
of the war. 


As had been foreseen at army head-quarters at Ver- 
saiUes, an attempt had been made to bring about a 
combined action between the forces of Chanzy and 
Bourbaki. As we have alreadj^ seen, the advance of 
the former (Chanzy) was met by Prince Frederick 
Charles, akeady on the Loir, and Bourbaki had pre- 
pared his advance by Montargis to the relief of Paris. 
But he delayed its execution until the 19th December, 
when the Second German Army had already returned 
to Orleans, from its expedition to Le-Mans. General 
Bourbaki then perceived the fact that the Second 
Army would, upon his further advance, fall on his 
flank, and he the more readily fell in with another 
plan, devised by Monsieur de Freycinet, and favored 
by the Dictator Gambetta. 

This was for the Fifteenth Corps to remain at 
Bourges and to secure that place by intrenched posi- 
tions at Vierzon and Nevers; the Eighteenth and 
Twentieth were to proceed to Beaune by railway, and^ 


in conjunction with Garibaldi and Cremer, 70,000 
strong, to occupy Dijon. The newly-formed Twenty- 
fourth Corps was also to be moved by railway from 
Lyons to Besangon, where, in combination with the 
forces already there, it would attain a strength of 
50,000. Co-operating then with the "victorieux de 
Dijon," it would be easy to raise the siege of Belfort, 
"meme sans coup ferir." It was considered that the 
mere presence in that place of this large force, greatly 
exceeding, as it did, 100,000, would preclude any at- 
tacks upon the Northern forts ; in any case, there was 
the certainty of cutting through the enemy's various 
hues of communication, and later on, the prospect of 
a combined action with Faidherbe. 

The movements by rail from the Loire to the Saone 
had already commenced by December 23rd. In the 
absence of aU preparations, many interruptions in 
the traffic naturally occurred, and the troops suffered 
severely from the intense cold and from want of neces- 
sary comforts. After Chagny and Chalons-sur-Seine 
had been reached, and it was ascertained that the Ger- 
mans had akeady evacuated Dijon, it was decided to 
again embark the troops so as to bring them nearer to 
Besan(,'on, whence arose a fresh delay ; and it was only 
in the beginning of the new year that the Eastern 
Army was in readiness, between Dijon and Besan^on. 
The Fifteenth Corps was also ordered up, but it took 
fourteen days to get so far. 

The comprehensive plan of Freycinet, and his san- 
guine expectations, had been favored by the circum- 
stance that the transfer of a large contingent of the 
army to a distant place in the seat of war had been 
kept from the knowledge of the Second Army, as well 
as from that of the Fourteenth Corps and army head- 
quarters, for a fortnight. Rumors and newspaper 


articles had no doubt somewhat before this given inti- 
mations, but General von Werder's telegram of the 5th 
January was the first really authentic announcement, 
by which it was known beyond doubt that the Germans 
now stood face to face with a changed aspect of the 
situation. In Versailles, arrangements were at once 
made and steps taken for the formation of a new 
Southern Army, 

There was available for this purpose the Second 
Corps at Auxerre, under General von Zastrow, which 
during this period of uncertainty had constantly oper- 
ated between the Saone and Yonne, according as the 
one or the other appeared to be threatened. The 
supreme command of these two corps, to which was 
afterwards added the Fourteenth, was entrusted to 
General von Manteuffel. General von Werder could 
not be immediately reinforced, and for a time the 
Fourteenth Corps was thrown upon its own resources. 

Notwithstanding their advantage, the French did 
more manoeuvring than fighting. General Bourbaki 
aimed at surrounding the left wing of the Fourteenth 
Corps, and thus entirely cutting it off from Belfort. 

On 5th January the Eighteenth Corps had advanced 
by Grandvelle, and the Twentieth by Echenoz-le-Sec, 
on Vesoul ; but, as we have seen, they had there met 
wdth opposition, and as the corps diverging to the right 
to Esprels heard that Villersexel was occupied by the 
Germans, the Commander determined upon a still more 
easterly and circuitous route. On the 8th the two 
corps of the left wing marched off to the right, the 
Eighteenth to Montbozon, the Twentieth to Rouge- 
mont ; the Twenty-fourth went back on Cuse. At the 
same time General Cremer received orders to move 
from Dijon on Vesoul. On the 9th, therefore, the 
Twenty-fourth and Twentieth Corps lay near Ville- 


chevreux and Villargent on the Arcey-Villersexel road, 
whilst the head of the Eighteenth Corps reached that 
latter place and Esprels. 

Greneral von Werder had no alternative but to follow 
this flank movement in all haste. He ordered the 
Baden Division to Athesans, the 4th Reserve Division 
to Aillevans, and von der Goltz's brigade to No^'oy-le- 
Bourg. The trains were marched on Lure. 


(January 9th.) 

On January 9th, at seven in the morning, the Reserve 
Division was sent from Noroy on to Aillevans, and 
commenced bridging the Ognon, to admit of the con- 
tinuation of the march. A flanking part of the 25th 
Regiment, sent to operate on the right, was fired on at 
Yillersexel, and the attempt to carry the stone bridge 
at that place failed shortly after. The French had 
occupied, with two and a half battalions, the town, 
situated on a height, on the further bank of the river. 
Shortly afterwards reinforcements came up on the 
German side. Two batteries opened fire upon the 
place and upon the still advancing enemy. The 25tli 
Regiment crossed the river and brokeNinto the walled- 
in park and into the castle. At one o'clock the French 
were driven out of the town, with the loss of many 
prisoners, and a cessation of hostilities ensued. 

The Prussian contingent had been seriously threat- 
ened in flank by the advance from Esprels of the 1st 
Division and the reserve artillery of the French Eight- 
eenth Corps. General von der Goltz, however, op- 
posed them by occupying the village of Moimay. 

He also sent to Villersexel nine companies of the 
30th Regiment, to the relief of the 25th Regiment, so 


as to allow the latter to rejoin its own division in the 
forward march. His combined brigade was eventually 
to form the rear-guard to the entire column. 

General von Werder, who observed the considerable 
force in which the French moved on Villersexel from 
the south, had concluded that there was less to be 
gained by forcing his own passage across the Ognon 
than by opposing that of the French, who saw in it 
facilities for a nearer approach to Belfort. He there- 
fore recalled the infantry already issuing from the 
southern quarter of the town, and sent it with the 
batteries to the northern side of the river. Here the 
main body of the 4th Reserve Division took up a de- 
fensive position, and the Baden Division was stopped 
in its march at Arpenans and Lure, to come to the 
reinforcement it now stood greatly in need of. 

It was already evening when large columns of the 
French advanced on Villersexel and sheUed the town 
with their artillery. 

Favored by the darkness, the French found their 
way into the park and castle, from which the German 
garrison had already been withdrawn ; and as the 
general condition of things did not seem to necessitate 
the occupation of Villersexel, the commanding officer 
ordered the evacuation of the place. Though hard 
pressed by the enemy, this move had been nearly com- 
pleted, when orders arrived from General von Werder 
to hold the town. 

At once four battalions from the Reserve Division 
advanced to the renewed attack. The 25th Regiment 
turned about at the bridge over the Ognon and joined 
them. The Landwehr rushed into the lower floor of 
the large castle, but the French defended the upper 
floors and the cellar. On the stairs and in the passages 
of the already burning buildings there ensued a hot 


and changeful combat, and the fight was maintained 
in the streets. Not till the General in command was 
left to his own free will, and ordered a cessation, were 
dispositions made at one o'clock in the morning for 
gradual retirement, which was completed by three. 
The Reserve Division then recrossed the bridge at 
Aillevans, and occupied St. Sulpice on its right. 

Greneral von der Goltz had contested Moimay until 

Of the Fourteenth Corps only 15,000 had been en- 
gaged, of whom 26 officers and 553 men were killed. 
The French losses included 27 officers and 627 men ; 
but they left behind in the hands of the Germans 700 
unwounded prisoners. Those who chiefly took part 
in these operations were the Eighteenth and Twentieth 
Corps; the Twenty-fourth Corps, on account of the 
fighting behind it, had discontinued its march from 
Arcey to Sevenans. Detachments of the gradually in- 
coming Fifteenth Corps moved from the south in the 
direction of Belfort. 

On the morning of 10th January, General von Wer- 
der massed his corps in the vicinity of Aillevans, ready 
to engage the enemy should the latter attempt an 
advance on Villersexel. But an attack was not made, 
and thus the march was resumed thai same morning. 
As a matter of fact, the French in three corps were as 
near to Belfort as the Germans were with three divis- 
ions. To cover the retreat, the Reserve Division took 
up a position at Athesans, and on the following day 
all the commands had reached and occupied the Lisaine 
line. On the right, by Frahier and Chalonvillars, stood 
the Baden Division ; in the centre, the Reserve Brigade, 
between Chagey and Couthenans ; on the left, the Re- 
serve Division, at Hericourt and Tavey. On the south. 
General von Debschitz watched from Delle, and Colonel 


von Bredow from Arcey; and to the west, at Lure, 
was Colonel von Willisen, with the detachment from 
Vesoul of eight companies, thirteen squadrons, two 

It would, in fact, have been possible to pass between 
the enemy and Belfort. 

The French leader had, under the intoxicating 
impression of a victory, resigned himself to inactivity. 
" Le General Billot," he reported to the Grovernment at 
Bordeaux, "a occupe Esprels et s'y est maintenu." 
We know that he was never attacked there at all, and 
that he did not succeed in driving away General von 
der Goltz from the vicinity of Moimay. " Le General 
Clinchant a enleve avec un entrain remarquable Viller- 
sexel ; " but the fight of the 9th was, as regards the 
Germans, maintained with only a portion of the Four- 
teenth Corps, to secure the right flank in the march of 
the main body. Wliilst, then, these moves were zeal- 
ously continued, the French army remained stationary 
for two days, ready for action and with the confident 
expectation that the enemy, described as beaten, would 
return to the attack. 

Only on the 13th did the Twenty-fourth Corps 
advance on Arcey, the Twentieth on Saulnot, and the 
Eighteenth follow up to Sevenans. The Fifteenth was 
to support an attack on Arcey by Ste. Marie. 

General von Werder had utilized this interval, and 
preceded the troops to test the possibility of taking 
up a position on the Lisaine, and to take counsel with 
General von Tresckow. 

An inspection showed that at Frahier the Lisaine 
becomes an unimportant streamlet, flowing through a 
broad grassy hollow, and thence to Chagey through 
steep wooded slopes. At Hericourt the valley opens 
out into a wide plain, which is, however, commanded 


by the rocky heights of Mont-Vaudois. Lower down 
the wooded heights follow the river as far as Mont- 
beliard, which forms a strong base where the line closes 
by the Allaine. 

The wooded nature of the plain, west of the Lisaine, 
would necessarily increase the assailant's difficulties 
in deploying large masses, and with a long artillery 
column. It is true that during the prevailing severe 
cold the river was everywhere frozen over ; but only 
two high-roads ran in the direction by which the 
French army in the valley were marching down the 
stream on Montbehard and on Hericourt. The other 
ways down were narrow, hollow roads, rendered diffi- 
cult by frost. 

General von Tresckow had already occupied the 
most important position with siege-guns, the Castle of 
Montbeliard with six, and the neighboring height of 
La-Grange-Dame with five heavy guns. Seven of 
them were placed on Mont-Vaudois and near Heri- 
court; besides these, twenty-one others commanded 
the valley of the Allaine as far as Delle, on the south. 

All the troops that could be spared from the invest- 
ing force were withdrawn from before Belfort. Still 
there remained the important consideration that the 
available forces might not suffice to entirely cover the 
whole of the Lisaine line. The right wing was the 
locally weakest portion of the whole position, but here 
there was- the least danger of the enemy's main attack, 
for the many needs of the numerous but inadequately 
equipped French army made the nearest possible vicin- 
ity of one of the railroads a necessity. The Vesoul 
line, over Lure, was broken in many places, and the 
Besan^on line led to the strong left wing. The country 
north of Chagey might therefore be held by weaker 
forces, and a reserve was formed out of the largest part 


of the Baden Division, which was distributed in rear 
of centre and left between Mandrevillars, Brevilliers, 
and Charmont. 

The respite accorded by the enemy was turned to 
account with the utmost eagerness for the digging of 
rifle-pits, the building of batteries, the restoring of 
telegraph and relay lines, the improvement of roads, 
and the providing of victuals and ammunition. 

(January 13th.) On the morning of the 13th the 
posting of the 3rd Reserve Division was begun at 
Arcey, Ste. Marie, and Gonvillars. They were in- 
structed to withdraw before a superior force, but to 
hold their own long enough to entail the deployment 
of the French columns. The duel with the widely 
dispersed French artillery was therefore prolonged for 
some time ; then, after a three h<j)urs' obstinate resist- 
ance, a new position was taken up behind the stream 
of the Rupt, and the retreat on Tavey delayed until 
four in the afternoon. The advanced guard of Gen- 
eral von der Goltz, after a whole brigade had deployed 
against it, also took up a position on the same level, 
at Couthenans. 

Along the Allaine line the French had not succeeded 
in driving General von Debschitz's detachment south 
of Dasle and Croix. 

(January 14th.) On the 14th, General von Willisen, 
with fifty dismounted dragoons, drove back the enemy 
who were advancing on Lure, and then retired with 
his detachment on Ronchamp. 

The French army did not, even on that day, under- 
take a serious attack. It lay massed with the Fifteenth, 
Twenty-fourth, and Twentieth Corps, and hardly a 
mile (German) from the German left and centre. The 
right was supposed by General Bourbaki to rest upon 
Mont-Vaudois. His plan was to cross the Lisaine 


above this place in force, and to facilitate the front 
attack by surrounding the enemy. The Eighteenth 
Army Corps and the division under Cremer were told 
off for this purpose. The di*awback to this judicious 
arrangement was that the two above-mentioned detach- 
ments, destined by the officer in supreme command 
to open the fight on the 14th, had to advance by 
the longest line of march. On this day the leading 
troops of the Eighteenth Army Corps barely succeeded 
in reaching Lomont, by difficult hill and woodland 
passes, and the Cremer brigade had only then begun 
to advance from Vesoul. A postponement to the 15th 
was thereupon determined. 

On the German side, a general attack of the superior 
enemy was hourly expected, and Oeneral von Werder 
felt himself bound to telegraph the extreme seriousness 
of his position to Versailles. The rivers, being frozen, 
were passable, and the duty of covering Belfort cur- 
tailed the liberty of his movements and endangered the 
existence of his corps. He earnestly prayed that a 
decision might be arrived at as to whether Belfort was 
still to be held. 

At the army head-quarters it was considered that 
any further withdrawal of the Fifteenth Army Corps 
would have the immediate effect of liaising the siege 
and causing the loss of the considerable materiel which 
had been provided for it; that it was impossible to 
foresee where such a line of action would end; and 
that it could but delay the co-operation of the army 
advancing by forced marches under Oeneral von 
Manteuffel. At three o'clock p.m. on the 15th of 
January a positive order was conveyed to General von 
Werder to accept battle in front of Belfort. He was, 
as was only fair, relieved of the moral responsibility 
of the consequences of a possibly disastrous issue. 


But before this order could reach him, the General had 
already decided on its execution. 


(January 15th to 17th.) 

(January 15th.) On the morning of the 15th of 
January, the French Fifteenth Army Corps, with two 
divisions augmented by artillery, advanced on Mont- 
behard, a third followed in reserve. The East-Prussian 
Landwehr battahons, which had pushed forward as far 
as the farm of Mont-Che vis and Ste. Suzanne, held 
their position for a long time, advanced to the attack 
of their own accord, and drove the heads of the enemy's 
columns back upon the stream of the Rupt. But when 
the latter, during the afternoon, posted themselves in 
force along the edge of the wood, they were at two 
o'clock ordered back to the left bank of the Lisaine. 
The neighboring town of Montbeliard, entirely com- 
manded by the surrounding heights, was voluntarily 
evacuated, and the fortified castle alone held. But east 
of Montbeliard General von Gliimer with the 1st Baden 
Brigade took up a position, and had four field-batteries 
besides siege-guns brought up to the plateau of La- 

Towards the close of the day the French, after con- 
tinuous but ineffectual bombardments from eight bat- 
teries, took possession of the town, but did not make 
any further advance. 

Neither had they succeeded in crossing the Lisaine 
at Bethoncourt. An officer and sixty men, who sought 
cover within a walled cemetery from the sharp fire of 
the defenders, were taken prisoners. 

Further to the north the French Twenty-fourth 
.Corps continued to advance, but it was two o'clock be- 


fore their columns succeeded in deploying out of the 
wood. Four battalions did, indeed, succeed in enter- 
ing and occupying the \dllage of Bussurel, situated on 
the western bank of the Lisaine, but their further 
advance was frustrated by the fire of the defenders 
posted behind the railway embankment and by that of 
the Baden battalions and batteries drawn from the 
main reserve. 

Hericourt, but one mile from Belfort, on the great 
high-road of Besancon, became a place of importance 
in the German line. Here the enemy on the hither 
side of the Lisaine was met by the right wing of the 
4th Eeserve Division. 

The little wooded height of Mougnot, which forms 
a sort of bridge-head at the narrow gorge through 
which the road passes, had been fortified by abatis, 
batteries, and rifle-pits, the town in the rear prepared 
for defence, and the base of the heights on either side 
studded with artillery. Four East-Prussian Landwehr 
battalions were joined on the right by the Reserve 
Brigade, which held the slopes of Mont-Vaudois as far 
as Luze. 

At about ten o'clock the French artillery deployed 
on the open heights close to the line of approach in 
the neighborhood of Tremoins. Upon their infantry 
advancing on the left over Byans, the detachment 
which till then had been left at Tavey went back to 
Hericourt in reserve, and the enemy's first attack on 
Mougnot was repulsed by the garrison and by the fire 
of sixty-one guns on the further bank of the river. 
The attempt was not repeated on that day, and the 
French confined themselves to a sharp but ineffectual 

According to the instructions left behind by Greneral 
Bourbaki, the French were to await the result of the 


great encircling movement which was to be carried 
out by General Billot with the Eighteenth and by the 
Cremer divisions. As, however, these latter had not 
yet put in an appearance, the main reserve had to be 
brought forward left of Coisevaux to secure G-eneral 
Clinchant's flank. 

The orders from head-quarters had only reached the 
Eighteenth Corps at midnight. The latter had, more- 
over, to effect a heavy march over deeply snowed-up 
woodland paths. This entailed intercommunications, 
not only between the wing-columns of the 1st and 3rd 
Divisions, but even with the division under Cremer at 
Lyoffans. This division had, by dint of the greatest 
exertion, reached Lure during the night, and could not 
get beyond Beverne until nine in the morning. A 
fresh delay was occasioned by the order to bring up 
in front of the infantry the artillery (even the reserve 
artillery, which brought up the rear), and thus it hap- 
pened that the Eighteenth Corps did not succeed in 
deploying two of its divisions against Luze and Chagey 
till between 12 and 2 p.m. 

The 1st Division occupied Couthenans with one bat- 
talion, and brought up five batteries on the decline 
behind the heights to the north of that place. 

But the fire from the bank on the other side of the 
river prevented their further ascent, and after the lapse 
of a short time several of these detachments had but 
two guns left fit for action, although the Germans, 
with regard to the difficulty of procuring fresh ammu- 
nition, had used it as sparingly as possible. At three 
o'clock there was a pause in the firing, which was 
resumed on the arrival of reinforcements, when the 
artillery of the Twenty-fourth Corps took part in it. 
An infantry attack on a larger scale was not yet at- 


There was scarcely more purpose in the movement 
of the 3rd Division against Chagey, which was only 
occupied by a Baden battalion ; yet it was here that 
the enveloping movement of the German right wing 
by way of Mont-Vaudois was to take place. The 
wood adjoining the first houses of the village and its 
steepness was the only difficulty attached to the descent 
of the hill. Two French battalions suddenly appeared 
from the gorge that lay south of it and drove in the 
Baden outposts ; the further attack was to be supported 
from Couthenans on the south, but the infantry ad- 
vancing from thence found itseK forced to turn back 
by the fire from the opposite bank. Only after a 
renewed effort did the Zouaves succeed in entering 
Chagey, where a hard fight began amid the houses. 
Meanwhile two Baden battalions arrived, who, at five 
o'clock, di'ove the enemy out of the villages back into 
the wood. Fresh reinforcements hastened to their 
support from the reserve near at hand, the short win- 
ter's day was over, and during the night the French 
attempted nothing further. The 2nd Division of the 
French corps had only arrived as far as Beverne, the 
cavalry had not moved from Lyoffans. 

The Cremer division had, despite its late arrival at 
Lure, continued the march in the'' early morning. 
After the above-mentioned halts and intercommunica- 
tions the 9tli Brigade advanced on Etobon, and there 
at noon an engagement took place with a detachment 
of General von Degenfeld. When the 2nd Brigade 
came up, the first moved forward through the Wood 
of Thui-e, to cross the Lisaine above Chagey. The 
roads had first of all to be partly made practicable by 
pioneers, which occasioned considerable delay. The 
2nd Brigade then followed in the dark, leaving a recon- 
noitring party behind at Etobon. A fresh collision 


with some Baden contingents determined General 
Cremer to extinguish all the watch-fires. His troops 
remained under arms throughout the hard winter night. 

On the German side, all 'who were not told off for 
guard found shelter in the neighboring villages, only 
the pioneers were kept at work with their pickaxes. 
The actions had cost both sides about 600 men, with- 
out bringing about any decisive result ; but every day 
was a gain to the defenders. 

General von Werder, on the heights north of Heri- 
court, had received constant reports as to the issue 
from the head-quarter Staff officers, who had been 
posted in various places, by which the reinforcements 
from the reserves could be regulated. Still the reserve 
ammunition was a cause of anxiety, as a transport 
announced from Baden had not yet arrived. 

General Bourbaki informed his Government that he 
had taken Montbeliard (of course without the castle), 
occupied the villages on the west bank of the Lisaine, 
and that he would attack on the 16th. He had learned 
from General Billot that the German right wing ex- 
tended far across Mont-Vaudois, whence he gathered 
that they had been considerably reinforced ; he esti- 
mated the enemy at 80,000 to 100,000 men. Meanwhile 
he looked forward to obtaining good results by extend- 
ing the encircling movement further to the west. 

(January 16th.) At half -past six on the morning of 
the 16th the Germans once more got under arms in 
the same positions as the previous day. 

The French began the attack with their right wing 
again. From the loop-holed houses they fired on the 
Landwehr company stationed at the castle of Mont- 
beliard, causing some loss among the latter as well as 
among the working gunners. The summons to sur- 
render was disregarded, and the fire of the fort artillery 


used to sucli good purpose against two batteries that 
had just appeared on the neighboring height, that these 
were obhged to retire, leaving behind them two guns. 
Neither could they advance from a new position they 
had taken up at the farm of Mont-Chevis, where they 
were reinforced by three batteries, for the fire from 
La-Grange-Dame, although they continued the can- 
nonade until dark. No attempt was made from Mont- 
beliard to break the German line. 

Further to the left the reinforced 1st Division of the 
French Fifteenth Corps advanced on Bethoncourt. At 
one o'clock the fire of their artillery from Mont-Chevis 
and Byans obliged a Baden battery to limber up, and 
it was then brought to bear on the village. Meanwhile 
large bodies had been massed in the neighboring forest, 
and at three o'clock advanced out of it. General Glii- 
mer had abeady sent reinforcements to the threatened 
spot. Two determined attempts to carry the place by 
rushes close up to the position were frustrated by the 
annihilating artillery and rifle fire of the defenders. 
A third attack with a whole brigade, at four o'clock, 
was not even permitted to approach. The losses on 
the French side were considerable, the snowy field was 
strewn with the slain. Some unwounded prisoners 
were also taken. 

One division of the Twenty-fourth French Army 
Corps had taken up a covered position in the woods 
behind Byans, and as they had already occupied Bus- 
surel on the previous day, the German line of defence 
in the rear of the railway embankment appeared to be 
threatened from the immediate vicinity. The General 
in command therefore sent General Keller, with two 
Baden fusilier battalions and one heavy battery, from 
Brevilliers in this direction. The latter joined the two 
battalions who had been engaged on the slope of the 


hill since morning. The fire from five of the enemy's 
batteries was soon silenced by the unerring grenades 
of the German guns. At noon the French artillery 
retired from Byans, leaving here also two guns, which 
could only be brought away later. The infantry, one 
division strong, had only threatened to break the line, 
without proceeding to carry it out. 

The Twentieth Corps brought up two divisions 
against the Hericourt — Luze line. A thick fog covered 
the valley, and the early cannonade was at first scarcely 
answered by the Germans. To obtain some insight 
into the plans of the enemy, two companies of the for- 
mer had advanced on the height west of St. Valbert, 
surprising the opponents who were advancing from 
Byans with so rapid a fire that they turned back. But 
soon after, at half -past nine, several battalions from 
Tavey attempted to carry the Mougnot. Two attacks 
were frustrated by the steady resistance of the Land- 
wehr battalions, and a third attempt directed against 
the southern defile of Hericourt had no result. About 
four o'clock the infantry again massed against the 
Mougnot, but renouncing further attacks under the 
fire from Mont Salamou confined themselves till even- 
ing to an ineffectual cannonade. 

At Chagey two divisions of the Eighteenth Corps 
found themselves face to face with the Germans. They 
did not attempt anything. 

The slackness with which, on the 16th January, the 
action against the whole front from Montbeliard to 
Chagey was conducted, points to the conclusion that 
the French were everywhere awaiting the issue of the 
plan of encircling the German right wing. 

This task now devolved on General Cremer. The 
2nd Division of the Eighteenth Corps joined him at 


Two divisions advanced thence on Chenebier, where 
General von Degenfeld was with two battahons, two 
batteries, and one squadron. There could be no doubt 
as to the result. At eleven o'clock the Penhoat divis- 
ion of the Eighteenth Corps advanced from the west 
to encircle northwards, and Cremer's division, for the 
purpose of barring the defenders' retreat on Belfort, 
advanced from the south, the wood of La-Thure cover- 
ing his approach. The batteries of both divisions were 
brought up on its northern edge, where they opened 
fire. After firing had continued for two hours, the 
masses of infantry advanced from three sides. Under 
General Cremer's personal guidance the Baden fusiliers 
were driven from the south to the north of the village, 
and as here the surrounding movement through the 
wood of Montedin had become practicable. General von 
Degenfeld was, after an obstinate resistance, obliged 
to begin the retreat in a northerly direction through 
Frahier. Thence he again turned south-east and took 
up a position in front of Chalonvillars, on the high- 
standing mill of Rougeot, where, at six o'clock, he was 
joined by Colonel Bayer with strong reinforcements. 
The French did not pursue ; the Cremer division, which 
had lost 1000 men, retired, on the contrary, on the 
wood of La-Thure, while the Penhoat"-di vision confined 
itself to the occupation of Chenebier. 

Accordingly the German line of defence was not 
broken on this day ; still, its extreme right wing had 
been driven back to within three-quarters of a mile of 

The fortress celebrated the victory of French arms 
by a feu-de-joie, but made no serious attack on the 
investing forces, akeady weakened by the dispatch of 
reinforcements, who, however, on their side, quietly 
continued the construction of batteries. 


General von Werder, desirous above all of setting 
the scene of action back to his right wing, could only 
hold in reserve four battalions, four squadi'ons, and 
two batteries, bringing up these from the least exposed 
places, and even from Belfort, to Brevilliers and Man- 
drevillars. At eight o'clock in the evening General 
Keller was ordered to retake Chenebier. To this 
end he left Mandi-evillars with two Baden battalions, 
reached Moulin-Eougeot at midnight, and found Fra- 
hier abeady occupied by Colonel Bayer. 

(January 17th.) On the morning of the 17th, eight 
battalions, two squadi'ons, and four batteries had as- 
sembled there. Three of these detachments advanced 
on the northern, three on the southern part of Chene- 
bier ; the others remained in reserve at the mill, where 
also three 15-pounders had been set up. 

At half-past 4 a.m. the first coluifin, advancing in 
breathless silence, surprised an outpost of the enemy 
at Echevanne, but it was unavoidable that the rifle fire 
at Chenebier should draw the attention of the French 
to the danger by which they were menaced. Even 
north of the place, in the wood, the Germans met with 
serious resistance ; and the danger that in the dark- 
ness and the dense undergrowth their troops might fall 
on each other obliged them to withdi*aw them to the 
outer edge of the wood. 

The other column, advancing through the valley of 

the Lisaine, had advanced at the double as soon as the 

first shots were heard. The 2nd Battalion of the 4th 

Baden Regiment rushed with cheers into the southern 

part of Chenebier, where a wild fight ensued. But 

daybreak showed that the heights on the west of the 

village were strongly occupied, and that columns of 

all arms were approaching from Etobon. At 8.30 

Colonel Payen was compelled to retire from the half- 


conquered village, and take up a position at the wood 
of Feiy, to cover the road to Belfort through Chalon- 
villars ; he took with him 400 prisoners. 

At the same time the right column, strengthened by 
a battalion of the reserve, had renewed the attack on 
the wood, and in a battle which lasted for two hours, 
with heavy losses on both sides, at last took possession 
of it. But the attempt to get into the barricaded and 
strongly-defended village was vain. 

A destructive fire met every attack ; one single round 
of mitrailleuse, for instance, killed twenty-one of the 
assailants. At three o'clock in the afternoon Greneral 
Keller therefore collected his troops at Frahier, where 
they were supported by four batteries. 

With such inferior strength, and after failing in this 
attempt, it was useless to think of driving the enemy 
beyond Chenebier ; the only thing to do was to hinder 
his further advance on Belfort. The end was fully 
achieved ; the French did not pursue. Instead of out- 
flanking the Grerman right, they seemed chiefly con- 
cerned for their own left. They defended Chenebier 
stoutly, but gave up all further offensive movements. 

In the expectation of such an attack succeeding, 
Greneral Bourbaki's plan seems to have been to engage 
the enemy in front only, and so detain him. Even 
during that night the Germans were alarmed at 
Bethoncourt and before Hericourt, while they, on 
their part, disturbed the French at Bussurel and in 
the wood of La-Thure. The infantry fire went on for 
hours, and numerous detachments had to spend the 
cold winter's night under arms. In the morning two 
divisions of the Eighteenth Corps (French) advanced 
on Cliagey and Luze, supported by the Army Reserve 
artillery, but they could not come up with the Grer- 
mans, so several repeated attacks on those places were 


without result. Firing went on incessantly from one 
o'clock. In front of Hericourt there was a mutual 
shelling, and Bussurel, held by the French, was in 

To drive the French out of Montbeliard, the town 
was fired on from La-Grange-Dame and from the 
chateau till the inhabitants begged that it might be 
spared, declaring that the position was abandoned, 
which subsequently proved to be false. Ten battalions 
of the French Fifteenth Corps advanced from the 
woods in the forenoon, and tried to push on past Mont- 
beliard, but suffered severely from the flanking fire of 
the heavy guns at La-Grange-Dame ; only a few got 
into the valley of the Lisaine. The western road from 
Montbeliard, and the hills immediately in front of it, 
remained in the hands of the French, but the attack 
ceased at about two in the afternoon. 

Further to the south. General von Debschitz's posts 
in front of AUaine had easily checked the advance of 
the French detachments. 

The Germans were now convinced that no further 
attack would be attempted. 

The condition of the French troops, not yet inured 
to war, was, in fact, serious. They had been obliged 
to bivouac in bitter weather, sometimes under arms, 
and for the most part without food. Their losses were 
enormous, and the superior officers who were invited 
to meet the Generals at three in the afternoon, in the 
neighborhood of Chagey, expressed their objections to 
a yet more extensive movement to the left, since sup- 
plies would be impossible, and there would be danger 
of the Germans cutting off the communications from 
the side of Montbeliard. On this came the news that 
the heads of General von Manteuffel's corps had already 
reached Fontaine-Frangaise, and was near to Gray. 


Under these circumstances General Bourbaki 
thought he must decide on a retreat. He telegraphed 
to the Government that by the advice of his Generals, 
and to his deep regret, he had been compelled to take 
up a position further in the rear, and only hoped that 
the enemy might follow him. Hence this experienced 
General can have felt no doubt that his army, after 
faihng in the attack on the Lisaine, could only escape 
a very critical position by a steady retreat. 

(January 18th.) On the morning of the 18th the 
Germans were in the positions they had secured the 
day before, and under arms, the French in full force 
along the whole front. It was a significant fact that 
they were busily employed on the construction of 
earthworks. They had evacuated Montbeliard the 
evening before, and now held the country to the west 
of the town strongly manned and fortified. 

During this day nothing occurred but a shelling and 
small skirmishes. General Keller had come up on the 
right German wing with reinforcements, and as the 
enemy retired to Etobon in the afternoon he was able 
to re-occupy Chenebier. Further north. Colonel von 
Willisen again marched on Ronchamp. Coutenans 
was taken possession of in the centre, and the enemy 
driven out of Byans by artillery fire ; but, on the other 
hand, the Germans could not yet penetrate the woods. 
On the southern bank of the Allaine General von 
Debschitz's detachment drove the enemy back beyond 
the line of Exincourt — Croix. 

In the three days' fighting on the Lisaine the Ger- 
mans had lost 1200, the French from 4000 to 5000 

In spite of many detachments having to be drafted 
off, and of the threatening attitude of the enemy, the 
siege-works were uninterruptedly carried on outside 


Belfort, and as soon as the investing forces were again 
reinforced Gleneral von Werder followed the retiring 
French to Etobon, Saulnot, and Arcey. 


(January, 1871.) 

In the place of the Second Corps, now engaged with 
the Army of the South, the First Bavarian Corps had 
come up, of which Grambetta had said, " Les Bavarois 
n'existent plus." It had made such good use of its 
time of rest south of Longjumeau that by the begin- 
ning of the New Year it was already 17,500 strong, 
with 108 guns. It was drawn up between the Sixth 
Prussian Corps and the Wiirtemberg Division on both 
banks of the Seine. The Wiirtembergers extended 
from Ormesson to the Marne, and between that river 
a,nd the Sausset were the Saxons, so as to diminish the 
front of the Guards' Corps now that the Moree was 
frozen over and afforded no protection. 

The observation of such a huge stronghold made 
great demands on the endurance of the troops. 

By extending their works more and more outside 
Villejuif and Bruyeres, the French threatened to out- 
flank the Second Bavarian Corps. To avert such an 
attack the Sixth was obliged to keep a strong detach- 
ment constantly in readiness at L'Hay. 

The supports on the south could not in any way be 
protected against the fire of the heavy fortress guns, 
nor the outposts against that of the Chassepots. They 
consequently could often not be relieved for several 
days, and the relief was usually effected at night. The 
less the success of the French arms in the open field, 
the more lavish were they in the expenditure of ammu- 
nition from their works. 


Mont-Valerien hurled its giant shells to a distance 
of from seven to eight kilometres (from four to five 
miles English), but this perpetual cannonade, to whose 
din the ear was soon accustomed, did little damage. 

The Artillery Attack on the Southern Front. — Till 
Mont-Avron was carried, the Germans had only been 
able to bring field-guns to bear against the French 
fortress artillery. But early in January their prepara- 
tions had at last got so far forward that seventeen 
batteries, which had long been completed, could be 
armed with heavy guns against the southern front. 
A battery stood apart on the left wing in the park of 
St. Cloud, to the north of Sevres; four more, close 
together, on the steep slope of the hill to the west of 
Meudon; five crowned the plateau of Moulin-de-la- 
Tour, where the mill, serving to guide the aim of the 
French, had been blown up. Four more batteries were 
constructed in a lower position between Fontenay and 
Bagneux. Two, between Chevilly and La-Rue, pro- 
tected the German troops against a flank movement 
from Villejuif, with the field artillery of the Second 
Bavarian and Sixth Corps. Covered ways were pre- 
pared, and intermediate depots were supplied with 
ammunition from the great magazines at Villacoublay. 

Colonels von Rieff and von Ramni conducted the 
artillery attack under General von Kameke and Gen- 
eral Prince Hohenlohe; General Schulz directed the 
engineering works. The men served twenty-four 
hours in the batteries, and then took two days' rest. 
The officers had but one day's rest. 

The heavy guns were brought into position behind 
masked batteries on January 3rd by daylight, without 
any interference ; in all the others by night, after the 
outposts had been di-iven in. Thus, on the morning 
of the 4thj 98 guns were ready to open fire : 28 on Issy, 


28 on Vanves, and 18 on Montrouge ; 10 against tlie 
emplacements between the first two forts. But a thick 
fog hid every object, and it was not tiU January 5th, 
at 8.30 in the morning, that the signal was given for 
opening fire. 

The enemy replied at once. There were in Fort 
Valerien 106 guns, in Issy 90, in Vanves 84, and in 
Montrouge 52 ; there were about 70 in the sectors of 
the ramparts which came under fire and at ViUejuif, 
16-cm. guns for the most part ; so the attack at first 
was under great difficulties. But when, at about noon, 
all the batteries had opened fire, the situation gradually 
improved, and the greater accuracy of the Grerman aim 
began to teU. Issy was almost silenced by two o'clock, 
nine guns were destroyed in Vanves and had lost thirty 
gunners ; only Montrouge stiU replied with any vigor. 
The artillery from the ramparts now opened fire, but 
the forts never again got the best of it. Some gun- 
boats coming up by Point-du-Jour very soon had to 

The field-guns of the Second Bavarian and Sixth 
Corps were also so effective that no attack was at- 
tempted from the works at ViUejuif, nor was a shot 
fired on the batteries at Bagneux. A number of parapet 
guns and the long-range Chassepots looted from the 
French did such good service that the enemy were 
driven further and further in. The German outposts 
took possession of the trenches of Clamart, and in the 
course of the night turned their front towards the 

Only a few 15-cm. shells were thrown into the city 
as a serious announcement ; the first thing to be done 
was to batter down the outworks, and for some few 
days all the firing was directed on them. The most 
serious counter-attack was from Montrouge and from 


a mortar-battery in a very advantageous position be- 
hind the high railway embankment to the east of Issy ; 
next, from the south front of the ramparts, almost a 
mile (German) long in a straight line. Foggy weather 
on some days necessitated a suspension or entire cessa- 
tion of firing. But meanwhile the German advanced 
lines were from 750 to 450 metres nearer to the fortifi- 
cations. New batteries were constructed further for- 
ward, and armed with thirty-six guns out of those left 
in the rear. 

(January 10th.) The French garrison were all this 
time very active. On January 10th they succeeded in 
the dark hours in carrying the weakly-occupied posi- 
tion at Clamart. They placed three battalions in the 
place, and dug a shelter-trench of 1200 metres towards 

(January 13th.) The Second Army of Paris was 
still encamped outside the town to the east and north, 
from Nogent to AuberviUers. After some small alarms, 
on the evening of the 13th some strong detachments 
advanced, under cover of a hot fire from the forts from 
Courneuve and Drancy on Le-Bourget. But the troops 
in occupation were on the alert, and being reinforced 
at once by several companies, repulsed the repeated 
attempts of the French to storm it till two o'clock in 
the morning. 

(January 14th.) On this day the French renewed the 
attempt on Clamart with 500 marine infantry and 
several battalions of the National Guard. When these 
last had assembled at the railway station near, with 
a great deal of noise, their advance was reported 
soon after midnight. The fight lasted about an hour, 
and ended with the retreat, or flight, of the attacking 
party. Patrols pursued them close up to the trenches 
of Issy. 


The distance was so great that the fire from the 
ramparts had not yet perceptibly moderated. Battery 
No. 1, isohited in the park of St. Cloud, suffered most, 
being shelled by two batteries, from Poiut-du-Jour and 
from Mont-Valerien. The steep slope behind the bat- 
tery made it easy for the enemy to take aim. The 
breastwork was repeatedly breached, and it was only 
the most zealous devotion which enabled the struggle 
to be continued at this point. The French also poured 
a heavy fire into batteries Nos. 19 and 21, pushed for- 
ward into a particularly dangerous position under 
Fort Vanves. The fire from the ramparts, coming 
from a long range to the breastwork, was plunging and 
breaking through the platforms, and a great many 
gunners were wounded or killed. The powder maga- 
zine blew up in two of the batteries, wounding both 
the officers in command, besides several other superior 

To the east of Paris, the fifty-eight German guns 
placed there after the reduction of Mont-Avi'on were 
opposed to 151 of the French. The Germans, never- 
theless, soon proved their superiority ; the forts only 
occasionally opened fire; the French withdrew their 
outposts to the works, and altogether vacated the 
peninsula of St. Maui*. By degrees the heavy siege- 
guns could be removed from hence to the banks of 
the Moree. 

The forts to the south had meanwhile suffered se- 
verely. The ruin at Issy was visible to the naked eye ; 
fire broke out repeatedly, and the powder magazine 
had to be cleared out at great risk in the night of 
January 16th. Fort Vanves had lost seventy men ; it 
opened fire usually every morning, but soon became 
silent. Montrouge, on the contrary, on some days 
fired as many as 500 rounds from eighteen guns. But 


here, too, the casemates no longer afforded any shelter^ 
and one of the bastions was a heap of ruins. 

In spite of the steady fire from the ramparts, part 
even of Paris was distressed by the 15-cm. shells. An 
elevation of 30 degrees, through a peculiar contrivance, 
sent the shot into the heart of the city. From 300 to 
400 shells were fired daily. 

Under the pressure of public opinion the G-overn- 
ment, after repeated deliberations, decided on another 
great enterprise, to be directed this time against the 
German batteries at Chatillon. The assembled Gen- 
erals agreed, indeed, that such sorties could promise 
no results without the co-operation of an army out- 
side; but, on the 8th, Gambetta had announced the 
" victory " of the Army of the North at Bapaume, and 
had promised that both the Armies of the Loire should 
advance. Hereupon General Trochu advised that they 
should at least await the moment when the investing 
army should be weakened by detailing further detach- 
ments ; but he was opposed by the other members of 
the Government, especially by Monsieur Jules Favre. 
He explained that the Maires of Paris were indignant 
at the bombardment, that the representatives of the 
city must be allowed some insight into the military 
situation, and, above all, that negotiations ought long 
since to have been entered into. 

Finally, on January 15th, it was determined that the 
German lines should be broken through at Montretout, 
Garches, and Buzanval. 

While confusion and dissensions thus prevailed in 
Paris, the unity of the German nation was proclaimed 
at Versailles under the Emperor Wilham. 



(January 19tli.) 

The sortie was to be effected on January 19tli. On 
that day, as we have seen, General Faidherbe marched 
on St. Quentin, on the way to Paris, and the army 
which was to make the sortie was standing on the 
eastern and northern fronts of the capital. The at- 
tempt to break through was, however, made on the 
opposite side. In fact, the peninsula of Gennevilliers 
was the only ground on which large masses of troops 
could be deployed without being exposed for hours, 
while they were being assembled, to the fire of the 
German artillery. 

Two days previously the mobilized National Guard 
had relieved the divisions told off for the sortie, from 
the positions they held ; 90,000 men in three columns 
were to attack at the same time. General Vinoy on 
the left, supported by the fire from the rampart, was 
to carry the height of Montretout ; General Bellemare 
in the centre was to advance on Garches; General 
Ducrot on the right, on the Chateau of Buzanval. 

The attack was to begin at six in the morning, but 
blocks occurred at the bridges of Asnieres and Neuilly, 
as no explicit orders had been issued for crossing them. 
When, at seven o'clock, the signal to advance was made 
by gun-fire from Mont-Valerien, only the head of Gen- 
eral Vinoy's force was formed up, the other columns 
had not yet deployed, and the last detachments tailed 
back as far as Courbevoix. Before they had reached 
the rendezvous the left wing was already marching 
fifteen battalions on St. Cloud. 

These at first met only isolated posts and patrols, 
eighty-nine men in all, who rushed into the gorge of 


the work of Montretout, and there made a stand for 
some time ; they then fought their way out with great 
bravery, but some of them were taken prisoners. 
There, and on the north of St. Cloud, the French at 
once prepared for defence. 

The centre column, under Greneral Bellemare, also 
took possession without difficulty of the hill of Maison- 

Not till now, nearly nine o'clock, did the first sup- 
ports of the German outposts appear on the scene. 
Till within a short time the patrols had been able to 
report nothing but thick fog; but reports from the 
right and left wings announced that a serious attack 
was threatened on the whole front from St. Cloud to 
Bougival. The Fourth Corps were called out, and 
G-eneral von Kirchbach joined the 9th Division. To 
the German right, in the park of St. Cloud, stood the 
17th Brigade, to the left, behind the Porte-de-Long- 
boyau, the 20th ; the other troops of the corps advanced 
from their quarters at Versailles and the villages to 
the north of it on Jardy and Beauregard. The Crown 
Prince ordered six battalions of the Landwehr Guard 
and a Bavarian brigade on Versailles, and himself rode 
to the Hospice of Brezin ; the King went to Marly. 

The French meanwhile had seized the foremost 
houses at Garches, and made their way here and there 
through the breaches in the east wall into the park of 
the Chateau of Buzanval. The 5th Jager Battalion, 
supported by single companies of the 58th and 59th 
Regiments, drove the enemy back on Garches, occu- 
pied the cemetery on the north, and still reached the 
advanced posts at La-Bergerie in good time. The 
other divisions under General von Bothmer carried on 
a persistent fight, by order from head-quarters, on the 
skirts of the park of St. Cloud, merely to gain time. 


By haK-past nine they had repnlsed an attack by Belle- 
mare's column, stopped the advance of the French up 
the Eue-Imperiale of St. Cloud, and even returned the 
attack from the Grille-d'Orleans and the Porte-Jaune. 
It was in vain that five French battalions tried to 
storm La-Bergerie. A squad of engineers had tried 
with great self-sacrifice to demolish the wall which 
surrounded the enclosure, but the dynamite was frozen 
and would not explode, and the Jagers held the posi- 
tion steadfastly throughout the day. 

The attacks of the French had hitherto been at- 
tempted with no help from their artillery. That of 
Greneral Vinoy had been seriously delayed by running 
into the centre column, and now lingered in the rear 
to meet a possible attack at Briqueterie. General Belle- 
mare's batteries tried to get up the slope of the hill 
of Grarches, but the exhausted condition of the horses 
compelled them to take up a position at Fouilleuse. 
Meanwhile the batteries of the 9th Division (German) 
came up one by one, and by noon thirty-six guns had 
opened fire. In St. Cloud a hot street-fight was going 
on. General Ducrot alone, on the French right wing, 
had opened the battle with his strong force of artillery, 
which he got into position on both sides of Rueil. The 
tirailleurs then advanced, and made their way through 
the park of Buzanval to the western waU, but were then 
driven back by the 50th Eegiment of Fusiliers. 

At half -past ten the chief attack was made at this 
point, and supported by part of the central column. 
Only a non-commissioned of&cer's detachment met the 
attack at Malmaison, but at the eastern road from 
Bougival, at La-Jouchere and Porte-de-Longboyau, it 
found the 20th Infantry Brigade, which had already 
been reinforced. General von Schmidt still kept the 
reserve of the 10th Division in the rear at Beauregard. 


A murderous fire from the well-protected Grerman in- 
fantry checked the rush of the French, and converted 
it by midday into a steady fire action, the German 
artillery joining in with great effect. Two batteries of 
the 10th Division at St. Michel were strengthened by 
two of the Guards' brought up from St. Germain to 
Louvenciennes ; a third advanced on Chatou and di'ove 
an armor-plated train on the station north of Rueil 
to retire rapidly on Nanterre. Four batteries of the 
Fourth Corps finally opened fire from Carrieres, with- 
out heeding the guns of Valerien, shelling the compact 
masses of French infantry, who still held Rueil in the 

At two o'clock the French decided on renewing the 
attack. When two of their batteries had bombarded 
Porte-de-Longboyau a brigade marched on this place, 
and a second on the western wall of the park of Buzan- 
val ; a third followed to give support. Equally bold, 
but equally unsuccessful, was the attempt of a party 
of engineers, one officer and ten men, to blow up part 
of the wall ; they were all killed. The attacking col- 
umns had advanced to within 200 paces, but now thir- 
teen companies met them from the German side, and, 
firing on them at the most effective range, stopped 
their advance, and presently routed the French in spite 
of a valiant effort on the part of their officers. 

They found, however, a good support in the park- 
wall, which had been prepared for defence with great 
skill and with the utmost rapidity. The attack of some 
companies from Brezin and La-Bergerie on this wall 
was repulsed with heavy loss. 

But the strength of the French attack was already 
broken. Even by three o'clock a retreat was observ- 
able in the left wing, and as dusk fell they began gi-adu- 
ally, in the centre, to withdi-aw from the heights of 


Maison-du-Cure. When Colonel von Kothen pursued, 
with a small force, several battalions indeed fronted, 
and even attempted a counter-attack ; but timely sup- 
port arrived from La-Bergerie, Garches, and Porte- 
Jaune, and, seconded by the fire of the batteries, the 
Grermans continued the pursuit. The King's Grena- 
diers drove the enemy almost as far back as Fouil- 

Still, the Germans had not succeeded in repossess- 
ing themselves of the works at Montretout. The chief 
difficulty arose from their having been unable to ad- 
vance through the town of St. Cloud. As, however, 
these positions were indispensable for the protection of 
the right wing, General von Kirchbach gave orders 
that they were to be carried either that evening or 
early next morning. 

General von Sandrart decided on immediate action, 
and at eight that evening five batteries advanced to 
the attack. Only a few French were found in the 
earthworks, and these were taken prisoners ; but in the 
town the struggle was severe. Finally the Germans 
had to restrict themselves to blockading the houses 
occupied by the enemy. The French also held the wall 
of the park of Buzanval all through the night. The 
Landwehr Guard and the Bavarian Brigade were there- 
fore assigned quarters in Versailles, to form a strong 
reserve close at hand in case of need on the following 
day. The remainder of the troops withdi'ew into their 
former quarters. 

At half-past five General Trochu had ordered a 
retreat. He perceived that a prolonged struggle could 
not succeed, especially as the National Guard were 
mutinous. The brave defenders of St. Cloud were for- 
gotten in these orders ; they did not surrender till the 
day after, when artillery opened fire on the houses they 


had occupied. Even the park- wall was held till the 
following morning. 

The French attack of January 19th had failed before 
reaching the enemy's main position. The reserves in 
readiness on the German side had not been brought 
into action. The Fifth Corps alone had driven in an 
enemy of four times its own strength. It lost 40 offi- 
cers and 570 men; the French loss in killed and 
wounded was 145 officers and 3423 men, besides 44 offi- 
cers and 458 men taken prisoners. 

When the fog lifted, at about eleven o'clock on the 
morning of the 20th, they were seen retreating on 
Paris, in long columns, across the peninsula of Grenne- 


After the repulse of this last struggle for release on 
the part of the garrison, the bombardment was renewed 
on the north as well as the south and west. 

The siege-guns no longer needed against the smaller 
fortresses and on the Marne were parked to this end at 
Villiers-le-Bel. The Army of the Meuse had prepared 
abundant material for constructing batteries, and re- 
quisitioned above 600 wagons. Already twelve bat- 
teries were placed in lines betweeii Le-Bourget and 
Lac-d'Enghien, and the guns were mostly brought up 
at night. By January 21st eighty-one heavy guns 
were ready for action, and Colonel Bartsch opened fire 
at nine that morning on La-Briche, Double-Couronne, 
and Fort-de-l'Est. 

The forts, now exposed to the fire of 143 heavy guns, 
replied briskly, and on the foUowing day the thick 
weather prevented the Germans from opening fire again 
till the afternoon. But the ground in front was clear 
of the French, and the outposts of the German Guards 


and Fourth Corps took possession of Villetaneuse and 

In the course of the night fire was opened on St. 
Denis, with every endeavor to spare the Cathedral, and 
many places were set in flames. 

By the 23rd the steady fire of the Germans had per- 
ceptibly reduced the vigor of the French artillery. 
La-Briche was silenced, and the other forts only fired 
an occasional salvo. 

During the night of the 25th four batteries were 
advanced to within from 1800 to 1200 metres of the 
enemy's outworks. Engineering works could now be 
begun, and a row of new batteries was constructed, for 
which, however, there was never any need. 

The effect of this six days' bombardment was de- 

The forts had suffered greatly. On this side — unlike 
the south front — they lacked the support of the ram- 
parts behind them, and they had, too, no bomb-proof 
space. The temporary galleries were shattered by 
shell, the powder-magazines were in the greatest dan- 
ger, and the garrisons were devoid of shelter. The 
inhabitants of St. Denis fled to Paris in crowds, and 
the insufficient security of the battered works were no 
longer a protection against assault if the city held out 
any longer. 

The attack on the north front had cost the Germans 
one officer and twenty-five men; the French stated 
their loss at 180. 

The fire of the forts on the east front was kept 
under, and the Wiirtemberg Field Artillery was enough 
to prevent the French from again getting a foothold 
on the peninsula of St. Maur. 

The south front meanwhile suffered more and more 
from the steady bombardment. The ramparts and the 


mortar-pits behind the railway were still active, but in 
the forts the barracks were in ruins, partly battered 
in and partly burnt down, and the men had to take 
shelter in the empty powder-magazines. The ramparts 
were too much choked for free circulation, the para- 
pets afforded no protection. In Vanves the gaps were 
filled up with sand-bags ; in Issy, on the southern cur- 
tain, five blocks of casemates in the outer wall were 
demohshed. Even the isolated ravelin-walls of Vanves 
and Montrouge were destroyed, forty guns dismounted, 
and seventy gun-carriages wrecked. 

The whole situation of France, political and mili- 
tary, and above all that of Paris, was such as to cause 
the Government the gravest anxiety. 

Since the return of Monsieur Thiers from his diplo- 
matic tour it was certain that no mediatory influence 
would be exerted by any foreign power. The suffer- 
ings of the capital were now very great. Scarcity and 
high prices had for some time been a bm-then to the 
inhabitants ; their provisions were exhausted, and even 
the army stores of the garrison had been encroached 
on. Fuel was lacking in the bitter cold, and petroleum 
was an inefiicient substitute for gas. When the long- 
deferred bombardment began on the south side of 
Paris, the people took refuge in tha, cellars or fled to 
the remoter quarters of the town ; and when the north- 
ern side was also shelled the inhabitants of St. Denis 
crowded into the capital. 

The great sortie of the 19th had proved a total fail- 
ui-e, and no relief was to be hoped for from outside 
since Gambetta had sent news of the defeat at Le- 
Mans. The Paris Army, of whose inactivity he com- 
plained, was reduced to a third of its original strength 
by cold, sickness, and desertion. The horses had to be 
killed to provide meat for the inhabitants, and General 


Trocliu declared any further offensive movements to 
be quite hopeless ; the means even of passive resistance 
were exhausted. 

Hitherto the Grovernment had been able to keep the 
populace in a good humor by highly-colored reports, 
but now the disastrous state of affairs could no longer 
be concealed. Everything they could do was wrong. 

There was a large body of people in Paris who were 
but little affected by the general distress. Those mem- 
bers of the civilian class who had been equipped for 
the defence of their country were fed and well paid by 
the authorities, without having too much to do for it. 
They were joined by all the dubious social elements, 
whose interest it was to foment disorder; these had 
been quite content with the state of affairs as they had 
been on September 4th, and these formed the mob 
which was presently to assume the hideous aspect of 
the Commune. Ah-eady some popular gatherings had 
been only dispersed by force of arms, and even a part 
of the National Gruard had given signs of some muti- 
nous outbreak. 

The revolutionary clubs, too, supported by the press, 
demanded further active measures, even a sortie en 
masse of all the inhabitants of Paris. Thus the feeble 
Government, dependent as it was on popular favor 
alone, was under pressure from the impossible demands 
of an ignorant mob on the one hand, and, on the other, 
the inexorable coercion of facts. 

There was absolutely no escape but by capitulation ; 
every delay increased the necessity, and left them at 
the mercy of harder terms. Unless all the railways 
were at once thrown open for the delivery of supplies 
from a considerable distance, the horrors of famine 
were imminent for more than two million souls ; and 
later it might not be possible to meet it. Yet no one 


dared utter the fatal word surrender, no one would 
take the responsibility of the inevitable. 

A great council of war was held on the 21st. As all 
the elder Generals pronounced any further offensive 
measures to be quite impossible, it was proposed that 
the younger military authorities should be consulted, 
but no decision was arrived at. As, however, some 
one must be made answerable for every misfortune. 
General Trochu, hitherto the most popular member of 
the Government, was degraded from his position as 
Governor, and the chief command was entrusted to 
General Vinoy. General Ducrot resigned his com- 

All this did nothing to improve the situation, so on 
the 23rd Monsieur Jules Favre made his appearance 
at Versailles to negotiate at any rate for an armistice. 

The German Emperor was ready to meet this re- 
quest; but of course some guarantee must be given 
that the capital, after obtaining supplies, would not 
renew its resistance. All the forts were to be given 
up, including Mont-Valerien and the city of St. Denis, 
and the disarmament of the ramparts was demanded 
and acceded to. 

All hostilities were to be suspended on the evening 
of the 26th, so far as Paris was concerned, and all 
ways of ingress to be thrown open. A general armis- 
tice of twenty-one days was to begin from the 31st of 
January, exclusive, however, of the departments of 
Doubs, Jura, and Cote-d'Or, and of the fortress of Bel- 
fort, where, at the time, operations were being car- 
ried on, in which both sides were equally hopeful of 

This armistice gave the Committee of National 
Defence time enough to call a freely-elected National 
Assembly together at Bordeaux, whose business it 


would be to decide whether the war should be con- 
tinued, or on what conditions peace could be concluded. 
The election of the deputies was unimpeded and unin- 
fluenced even in the parts of the country occupied by 
German troops. 

The regular forces of the Paris garrison, troops of 
the line, marines, and Gardes Mobiles were to lay down 
their arms at once ; only 12,000 men and the National 
Guard were to retain them for the preservation of 
order. The garrison were interned for the time of the 
armistice; afterwards they were to be regarded as 
prisoners. As to their transfer to Germany, where 
every possible place was already overflowing with 
prisoners, that question was postponed in expectation 
of a probable peace. 

The forts were occupied on the 29th without opposi- 

The French Army gave up 602 guns, 1,770,000 stand 
of arms, and above 1000 ammunition wagons ; the for- 
tress surrendered 1362 heavy guns, 1680 gun-car- 
riages, 860 limbers, 3,500,000 cartridges, 4000 hun- 
dred-weight of powder, 200,000 sheUs, and 100,000 

The blockade of Paris, which had lasted 132 days, 
was over, and the greater part of the German forces 
detained outside the walls were released to end the war 
in the open field. 





The two army corps under Greneral von Manteuffel 
consisted altogether of fifty-six battalions, twenty 
squadi'ons, and 168 guns. When he arrived at Chatil- 
lon-sui*- Seine on January 12th, the Second Corps was 
on the right, and the Seventh on the left of Noyers, 
extending to Montigny over ten miles (Grerman). One 
brigade, under General von Dannenberg, which had 
already had several frays with portions of the French 
Army of the Vosges, had advanced on Vilaines to cover 
the right flank. 

Several good roads led from these quarters converg- 
ing on Dijon ; to Vesoul, on the contrary, the roads 
were bad, and deep in snow down the southern slopes 
of the wild plateau of Langres. The Commander-in- 
chief, nevertheless, took this fine of^ march, to afford 
G-eneral von Werder indirect assistance at least, as 
soon as possible, by coming up in the rear of the enemy 
who threatened him. 

The advance was between the two towns of Dijon 
and Langres, both strongly occupied by the French. 
"Wooded heights and deep ravines separated the 
columns and prevented any mutual support ; each had 
to provide for its own safety on every side. The troops 
had severe fatigues to encounter, and badly as they 
needed rest none could be granted, nor could the evil 


plight of their boots and the horses' shoes be in any 
way remedied. 

On January 14th the march began in a thick fog 
and bitter cold, along roads frozen as smooth as glass. 

To keep up the supplies was absolutely essential, 
and the 8th Brigade had from the first to be left in the 
rear to secure the all-important railway line from 
Tonnerre by Nuits and Chatillon, until communications 
could be established via Epinal. 

On the very first day the advanced guard of the 
Seventh had a fight before Langres. A detachment of 
the garrison of 15,000 men was repulsed on the fortress 
with the loss of a standard, and a detachment was 
therefore left behind to observe the place. Under its 
protection the corps marched past the fortress next 
day, while the Second advanced as far as the Ognon. 

The weather changed during the night of the 15th. 
Fourteen degrees of frost (Centigrade) gave way to 
storm and rain. The water lay on the frozen roads, 
and it was with the greatest difficulty that the Seventh 
Corps reached Prauthoy and the Second Moloy, closing 
up to the left. 

On the 18th, the left wing advanced on Frettes and 
Champhtte, to the south-east, the right assembled at 
Is-sui'-Tille, and its advanced guard, after marching 
fifty kilometres (thirty-one EngUsh miles), reached the 
bridges at Oray. On the flank and rear of the corps 
there had been some fighting, but the heavy march 
across the mountains was over, and they were in the 
cultivated valley of the Saone. 

G-eneral von Manteuffel had already received news 
of the happy issue of the first day's fighting on the 
Lisaine. Later telegrams from General von Werder 
reported that the French Army of the East would prob 
ably be obliged to retire under difficulties, and the 


German General at once determined to cut off its re- 
treat on the Doubs below Besan^on. 

The defeated French Army was still greatly superior 
in number to the German force, and the troops must 
again be called upon for severe exertions. They 
must again cross a thinly-populated and mountainous 
country, where it would be a matter of great difficulty 
to procure food and the shelter needful during the bit- 
ter winter nights. They must also leave hostile forces 
in the rear, under very insufficient observation at 
Langres, Dijon, and Auxonne. However, in spite of 
every obstacle, the advance in this new direction was 
begun on the 19th. 

The first difficulty might be the crossing of the 
Saone, here very deep and sixty metres wide, and full 
of drifting ice ; but the advanced guard of the Second 
Corps had found Gray abandoned by the French and 
both the bridges uninjured, and had taken possession 
of the place. The head of the Seventh Corps crossed 
the river by the railway bridge at Savoyeux, which 
was found intact, and by a pontoon bridge thrown 
across higher up. 

On the following day both corps advanced in a 
southerly direction, the Seventh on Gy, the Second on 
Pesmes. Here they crossed the Ogdon after driving 
off by artillery fire a French detachment, which tried 
to oppose the construction of the bridge. 

On the 21st, the advanced guard found Dole occu- 
pied by the enemy. General von Kobhnski attacked 
at once ; in spite of a violent street-fight, in which the 
townspeople took part, the grenadiers of the Second 
Regiment made their way through the town and seized 
a train on the other side, of 230 wagons of provisions 
and necessaries, intended for Besan^on, and left stand- 
ing in the railway station. As the Doubs was thus 


crossed at this point, so the Seventh Corps forced a 
passage across the Ognon at Marmay and Pin. 

Greneral von Werder had been told off to follow close 
on the heels of the French retreat, and while he held his 
own in front of the Fourteenth Corps, the 2nd Baden 
Brigade had advanced on the right wing on Etobon, 
while Colonel von Willisen and his twelve squadi'ons 
had marched on by Lure. On the left, Colonel von 
Zimmermann with the East-Prussian Landwehr had 
driven the French out of Ste. Marie. These detach- 
ments everywhere found cast-away arms and portions 
of equipment, and hundreds willingly gave themselves 
up as prisoners. 

During the next few days Greneral von Werder 
effected a general change of front to the left and south. 
The right wing held Villersexel, and it was the left 
wing only that met the enemy at Isle-sur-Doubs, and 
afterwards in greater numbers, at Clerval and Baume- 

General Bourbaki had quitted the Lisaine on the 
18th. The Twenty-fourth Corps (French) alone were 
left on the Doubs with orders to defend the defiles in 
the steep mountain-path of Lomont on the east of 
Clerval, towards the north ; all the other troops with- 
drew between the Doubs and the Ognon, with Cremer's 
division as a rear-guard. The Ognon might have 
formed a natural cover for the right flank of the French 
Army, and orders had been given for the destruction 
of all the bridges ; but we have seen how little they 
had been obeyed. 

On the 21st the Fifteenth and Twentieth Corps had 
arrived in the neighborhood of Baume-les-Dames, the 
Eighteenth at Marchaux ; and here, having Besangon 
close in his rear. General Bourbaki was anxious to 
await the next step of the enemy. In order to con« 


centrate his forces more completely, the Commandant 
of the place was desired to send up all the battahons 
he could spare of the Gardes Mobiles, on Blamont, so 
as to release the Twenty-fourth Corps. Nine battalions 
of the mobilized National Guard had before this reached 
Besan^on, and might have relieved the corps, but they 
were armed with Enfield rifles, for which there was no 
ammunition in store. Thus they would only have 
added to the mouths to fill, and General RoUand had 
simply sent them back again. The Commissary-Gen- 
eral declared that it was impossible for him to continue 
any longer to bring up the supplies ordered for the 
maintenance of the army, and what proved decisive 
was the news received this day that not only was the 
line of the Ognon lost, but that the Germans had 
crossed the Doubs. Under these circumstances the 
French Commander-in-chief determined to continue 
his retreat on Besangon and there cross to the southern 
bank of the Doubs so as not to be compelled to give 
battle with the river in his rear. The train was sent 
off during the night, but above all things the Fifteenth 
Corps was ordered at once to take possession of Quin- 
gey, and hold that position to the last man, to keep 
open the communications of the corps with the interior. 
All the other corps were to concentrate round Besan- 
gon, even the Twenty-fourth, which consequently gave 
up the Lomont passes. 

General Bourbaki reported his situation to the Min- 
ister of War, who held out hopes of support from that 
portion of the Fifteenth Corps now remaining on the 
Loire. Assistance could have been more easily and 
effectually given from Dijon. 

The Government had concentrated a very consider- 
able force on that town to replace Cremer's division, 
which had joined the Army of the East, and to defend 


the ancient capital of Burgundy as a point-d'appui for 
the operations of General Bourbaki. A corps of 20,000 
men was to hold the place; a very inappropriately- 
named Army of the Vosges, more than 40,000 strong, 
was to manoeuvre in the field. But all this did little 
to hinder the toilsome advance of the Grermans over 
the mountains. The detachments forming a corps of 
observation allowed themselves to be driven in by 
General von Kettler, who followed the movements of 
the corps on the right flank, and they retired on Dijon. 

Colonel Bombonnel, at Gray, urgently but vainly 
begged for assistance to enable him to defend the 
passages of the Saone ; his applications were refused 
because Dijon was in too great peril, and it was not 
till the Prussians had already crossed the river that 
Garibaldi began to move. 

He advanced on the 19tli in three columns on Is-sur- 
Tille, where only a part of the 4th Infantry Division 
were now left. But he moved forward only a mile 
(German). Garibaldi did no more than observe a 
reconnoissance party which advanced to meet him, 
from the hill at Messigny, and he then retired on Dijon 
with his troops, to the sound of the Marseillaise. 

However, at General von Manteuffel's head-quarters 
the enemy was held in too small estimation, when 
General von Kettler was simply ordered to go and 
" take Dijon." 

The city had been fortified with the greatest care. 
Strong earthworks and other works of defence pro- 
tected it to the northward ; more especially had Talant 
and Fontaine-les-Dijon been converted into two in- 
dependent forts and armed with heavy guns which 
commanded every approach on that side. The whole 
constituted a position which could be held against a 
much larger force than the five and a half battalions 


of the 8th Brigade with which General Kettler advanced 
to the attack. 

Fighting at Dijon, January 21st and 22nd. — They had 
reached Turcey and St. Seine, and on the 21st advanced 
in two columns from the west on Dijon, still three 
miles away ; from Is-sur-TiUe on the north. Major von 
Conta was approaching with a small reinforcement. 
Some companies of volunteers, indeed, the "Franc- 
tireurs de la Mort," the " Compagnie de la Revanche," 
and others, had been driven out of the villages on the 
way without any great difficulty, and beyond the deep 
ravine of the Suzon ; the village of Plombieres on the 
right had been defended with spirit and stormed, and 
Daix carried on the left ; but in front of the fortified 
position of the French, and under fire of theu* heavy 
batteries, the bold advance was forced to come to a 
standstill. Major von Conta had also marched on, 
through continuous fighting, but failed to come up 
with the brigade before dark. General von Kettler, 
recognizing the enormous superiority of the French, 
finally restricted himself to repulsing their sorties. 

The French had lost seven officers and 430 men in 
prisoners alone ; but the battle had also cost the bri- 
gade nineteen officers and 322 men. The troops had 
performed a severe march in bad weather, along heavy 
roads, and had no hot food either before or after the 
fight ; and ammunition too could only be supplied by 
a column which was expected to come up next day. 
Nevertheless General von Kettler did not hesitate to 
remain for the night in the position he had gained, 
immediately in front of the enemy, and then to seek 
quarters in the nearest villages. 

The French allowed him to do so without any serious 
opposition. Such complete inactivity made General 
von Kettler suspect that the main body of the French 


had perhaps retked by Auxonne to the support of the 
Army of the East, and he determined to bring them 
back on Dijon by a renewed attack. 

On the 23rd, at eleven o'clock, by a flank march along 
the enemy's front, after his advanced guard had routed 
a detachment of Grardes Mobiles, he reached the farm 
of Valmy on the Langres road, and advanced on that 
place with his two batteries against the village of 
Pouilly, which was walled and strongly occupied. 
Here, as was almost always the case when they had 
buildings to defend, the French made a stout resistance. 
The 61st Regiment had to storm each house in turn, 
and it was not till the chateau was in flames that the 
strong party of defenders, who had taken refuge in 
the top story, surrendered to the Germans. 

Beyond this place the enemy were found to have 
intrenched themselves between Talant, which had been 
regularly fortified, and a large factory-building on the 
high-road. Here the German advance was checked till 
the remainder of the regiment came up from Valmy, 
and the defenders were diiven in at various points, 
and back on the suburb. 

It was evident that the French were still at Dijon 
in full force ; but now unfortunately a tragic episode 
took place, for the storming of the factory was insisted 
on — a huge building, almost impregnable for infantry 
unaided. When all the senior ofiicers had been killed, 
a first-lieutenant, whose horse had been shot and he 
himself wounded, took the command of the 2nd Bat- 
talion. No sooner had the 5th Company, only forty 
strong, appeared from the neighboring quarry, than 
they came under a hot fire from all sides. Their leader 
was at once wounded, and the sergeant who carried 
the colors fell dead after a few steps ; so did the second- 
lieutenant and the battalion adjutant, who again raised 


the standard. It wa passed from hand to hand, first 
to the officers, then to the men ; every bearer fell. The 
brave Pomeranians nevertheless rushed on the build- 
ing, but there was no entrance on that side, and at last 
the under-officer retreated on the quarries with the 
remnant of the little band. Here, for the first time, 
the colors were missed. Of their own accord they 
went out again in the darkness to seek them, but only 
one man returned unwounded. It was not tiU after- 
wards that they were found by the French, shot to 
ribbons, in a pool of blood, under the dead. 

These were the only German colors lost throughout 
the war, and only thus were these lost. 

Of the French, eight officers and 150 men were taken 
prisoners, and the brigade had again lost sixteen offi- 
cers and 362 men. It mustered at Pouilly, and re- 
mained under arms till eight o'clock to be prepared for 
possible pursuit; then quarters were found in the 
neighboring villages. 

The Movements of the Army of the South. — The order 
to take Dijon could not be executed; but the bold 
advance of this small brigade had reduced the hostile 
army to inactivity, so that General von Manteuffel 
could advance unopposed. 

His intention was to reach the enemy's line of retreat 
to the south of Besan^on. 

There were but few roads to the south of France 
available for troops, through the ravined and terraced 
hills of the western Jura. The most direct connection 
was by the road and railway to Lons-le-Saulnier, on 
which Quingey and Byans were important points to 
guard. Further to the east, by a wide detour, a road 
runs by Ornans, Salins, and Champagnole to St. Lau- 
rent and Morez. 

On the other hand, several ways centre in Pontarlier, 


traversing the rocky passes, peculiar to that formation, 
known locally as Cluses ; they are breaches in the long 
ridge, connecting the lateral valleys. From Pontarlier 
one road only runs past Mouthe and in suspicious 
proximity to the Swiss frontier. 

(January 22nd.) On this day the advanced guard 
of the 13th Division marched from Audeux to St. Vit, 
and, after breaking up the railway and plundering 
several loaded wagons, down the river on Dampierre. 
On their way four bridges over the Doubs were found 
uninjured and were occupied. The advanced guard 
of the 14th Division advanced from Emagny to observe 
Besan(?on. The Second Corps, diverging on Dole, sent 
reconnoitring parties out beyond the river. 

(January 23rd.) The concentric movement of all the 
contingents of the German Army was continued. 

General Debschitz, approaching from the north, in 
passing Roches found only the abandoned camping- 
place of the Twenty-fourth French Corps. The 4th 
Reserve Division occupied L'Isle without opposition, 
and met no resistance till it reached Clerval and 

On the Ognon the Baden Division drove the French 
out of Montbazon. 

In the centre of the army the Seventh Corps pushed 
the advanced guard of the 14th Division forward on 
Dannemarie, near Besangon. A fight ensued which 
resulted only in a cannonade, lasting till night. The 
13th Division, on the contrary, which had crossed the 
Doubs at Dampierre, advanced on Quingey. 

Only one French brigade had been able to come up 
by railway, for want of rolling stock, and the last trains 
were received at the Byans station with Prussian shell. 
These troops were in such evil plight that they 
were unable even to place outposts. They abandoned 


Quingey almost without a struggle, and their retreat, 
almost a flight, on Besan9on and beyond the Loue, 
stopped the advance of reinforcements already on the 
way. Thus 800 prisoners and a train of 400 convales- 
cents fell into the hands of the Prussian advanced 
guard, who at once broke up the railway at Abbans- 

On the right wing, the head of the Second Corps had 
advanced in the valley of the Loue on the southern 
bank. Various cuttings on this road had been pre- 
pared for defence, but were undefended. It was not 
till it reached Villers-Farlay that it met a strong 
detachment of the enemy. 

On the evening of this day, of the French forces the 
Twentieth Corps was on the north of Besangon and 
the Eighteenth on the west, at the distance of about a 
Grerman mile. Cavalry, artillery, and the train were 
passing through the town or encamped on the glacis 
of the fortress. The Twenty-fourth Corps was on the 
march hither, and the 2nd and 3rd Divisions of the 
Fifteenth were in possession of the southern bank of 
the Doubs at Baume and Larnod ; but the 1st Division 
had not succeeded in holding Quingey. Thus the most 
direct and important line of communications of the 
army was cut, and its position, by this fresh disaster, 
seriously aggravated. Projects and counsels from 
Bordeaux, on which it was impossible to act, abounded, 
but did not mend matters ; and on the 24th General 
Bourbaki summoned the superior officers to a council 
of war. 

(January 24th.) The Generals declared that they 
had scarcely half their number of men under arms, 
and these were more inclined to fly than to fight. 
General Pallu alone thought he might answer for the 
men of the army reserve. The Commissary-General 


reported that, unless they could seize the stores in the 
place, the supplies in hand would last for four days at 
most. G-eneral Billot was in favor of attempting to 
fight a way through to Auxonne, but he declined to 
take the command-in-chief, which was offered him. 
The exhaustion of the troops and their insubordination, 
which was evidently increasing, gave little hope of the 
success of offensive operations. So there was no alter- 
native but to retire on Pontarlier, as the Commander- 
in-chief had proposed. 

This, even, was seriously threatened. To clear the 
country to the northward General Bourbaki ordered 
the Twenty-fourth Corps to advance once more and 
hold the passes of the Lomont. On the south the Fif- 
teenth was to defend the deep mountain ravine of the 
Loue, and General Cremer was more especially to 
cover the retreat of the army on the right flank which 
was most threatened. For this difficult task a division 
of the Twentieth Corps was placed under his command, 
as well as his own force, and the army reserve, as the 
most trustworthy of the troops. The Eighteenth and 
the remainder of the Twentieth were to await march- 
ing orders at Besan^on. 

At the German head-quarters, where of course the 
plans of the French could not be known, various con- 
tingencies had to be reckoned on. 

If the French remained at Besan^on there would be 
no need to attack them there; the place was not 
adapted for a large army, and its supplies could not 
hold out long. That they would again attempt to 
advance northwards was scarcely likely ; they would be 
leaving all their resources in their rear, and must 
encounter the larger part of the Fifteenth Corps (Ger- 
man) on the banks of the Ognon. 

An attempt to cut a way past Dijon seemed, on the 


whole, more probable. But this would be opposed at 
St. Vit by the 13th Division, at Pesmes by Colonel 
von Willisen's detachment, and finally by General von 

Thus the retreat on Pontarlier seemed the most 
likely course ; and to hinder their advance on that side 
must be the duty of the Second Corps, so long as the 
Seventh was employed in observing the main body of 
the French collected at Besangon, and in checking 
their sorties on both sides of the river. 

The Commander-in-chief therefore confined himself 
to giving general instructions to the superior officers, 
expressly authorizing them to act on their own judg- 
ment under such circumstances as could not be fore- 

Greneral von Werder was ordered to advance by 
Marnay and obtain touch with the Baden Division and 
von der Goltz's brigade, and distribute them in the 
first instance along the right bank of the Doubs. The 
4th Reserve Division was to restore the bridges at 
L'Isle and Baume, and cross over to the left bank. 
Colonel von Willisen joined the Seventh Corps to sup- 
ply the lack of cavalry. The Second Corps was as- 
sembled behind Villers-Farlay. 

(January 25th.) Extensive reco^moissances were 
arranged for next day. That of the Seventh Corps 
resulted in a sharp skirmish at Vorges. The head of 
the Second Corps met the French at Salins and at 
Arbois, but found that they had not yet reached 

(January 26th.) The advanced guard of the Second 
Corps marched on Salins. The forts of St. Andre and 
Belin, on high ground near that town, fronted on 
Switzerland, but they also commanded the plain to the 
south and west in the enemy's line of march. Salins 


is a strong key commanding the road to St. Laurent, 
and as long as it could be held would at the same time 
secure the retreat of the columns marching from Be- 
sangon on Pontarlier. 

The two field batteries of the advanced guard could, 
of course, do little against the heavy guns of the forts ; 
but the fusiliers of the 2nd Regiment advanced in 
rushes of small detachments up the narrow ravine, 
scaled the steep walls on that side, and, supported by 
the two battalions of grenadiers, forced their way, by 
about half-past two, into the railway station and 
suburb of St. Pierre. They lost 3 of&cers and 109 men. 

Soon after this G-eneral von Koblinski arrived, via 
St. Thiebaud, with the 42nd Regiment. As, in conse- 
quence of the representations of the Maire, the Com- 
mandant had abandoned the idea of bombarding the 
town, the advanced guard could take up its quarters 
there ; the main body of the 3rd Division retreated from 
under the fire of the forts on Monchard, and the defile 
was closed against all comers. It would have to be 
turned on the south. 

On that side the 4th Division already occupied Ar- 
bois, its head marching on Pont-d'Hery ; it found Po- 
ligny and Champagnole on the right still unoccupied. 

The Seventh Corps had reconnoitred both banks of 
the Doubs, and had found the enemy in strong posi- 
tions at Busy and at Vorges. 

The 4th Reserve Division advanced along the south- 
ern bank as far as St.-Juan-d'Adam, near Besan(,'on ; 
the remainder of the Fourteenth Corps marched on 
Etuz and Marnay. 

General von Kettler's report of the fighting on the 
21st and 23rd determined G-eneral von Manteuffel to 
make a renewed attempt on Dijon. He detailed Gen- 
eral Hann von Weyhern to this duty, placing him in 


command of the 8th Brigade, with Colonel von Wil- 
lisen's troops and Degenfeld's Baden brigade. 

On the French side, Greneral BressoUes had started 
on the 24th, in obedience to orders, to take possession 
of the passages of the Doubs and the defiles of Lomont. 
At first, with d'Aries' division, he had marched on 
Baume ; but as d'Aries could not succeed even in driv- 
ing in the Glerman outposts from Pont-les-Moulins, he 
retired on Vercel. In consequence of this, on the 
morning of the 26th, Carre's division, which had found 
the defiles of the Lomont unoccupied, also retired on 
Pierre-Fontaine. Comagny's division had already re- 
treated on Morteau, and was quietly making its way 
on Pontarlier. 

Greneral Bourbaki was greatly disturbed by this 
failure of his right wing ; more than was needful, per- 
haps, since, in fact, only one German division stood to 
the north of him, which at most could di'ive his rear- 
guard back on Pontarlier, while the main force of the 
enemy threatened him far more seriously on the west. 
He nevertheless ordered a renewed advance, on the 
26th, of the Twenty-fourth Corps, which was now to 
be supported by the Eighteenth. But the march 
through Besan^on of the Eighteenth Corps alone, over 
streets covered with ice, took up the whole of the day 
which should have been devoted to the attack, so that 
nothing came of the scheme. 

The Army Reserve had reached Ornans, and had 
formed up. The two other divisions advanced on the 
road to Salins, but heard, while on the march, that the 
Germans had just carried that place. They therefore 
occupied Deservillers and Villeneuve-d'Amont, to keep 
open the roads from thence to Pontarliers. 

The War Minister, meanwhile, had emphatically 
refused his consent to the general retreat of the army, 


without any regard to the imperative necessities of the 

The military dilettanteism which fancied it could 
control the army from Bordeaux is characteristically 
expressed in a telegi'am of the afternoon of the 25th. 
Monsieur de Freycinet gives it as his "firm convic- 
tion"* that if General Bourbaki would collect his 
troops, and, if necessary, come to an understanding 
with Graribaldi, he would be strong enough to fight his 
way out, either by Dole, or by Monchard, or by Grray, 
or by Pontarlier (north of Auxonne). The choice was 
left to him. 

Still more amazing was the suggestion that if, indeed, 
the state of the troops prohibited a long march, they 
should take the railway from Chagey, under the eye, 
no doubt, of the pursuing enemy. 

But such communications could only avail to shake 
the brave commander's seK-confidence. The disastrous 
reports which poured in from all sides, and the state 
of the troops, which he had seen for himself as the 
Eighteenth Corps marched through the town, crushed 
his last hope and led him to attempt his own life. 

The Commander-in-chief had of course to bear the 
blame of the total failure of a campaign planned by 
Freycinet; his dismissal from the command was al- 
ready on its way. Greneral Clinchant was appointed in 
his stead, and under these disastrous circumstances 
took the command of the army. 

All the generals were, no doubt, most anxious to 
avoid bringing their weary and dispirited troops face 
to face with the enemy. Every line of retreat was 
closed, excepting only that on Pontarlier. The new 
Commander-in-chief had no choice but to carry out 
the plans of his predecessor. He at once ordered the 

* Conviction bien arret^e. 


further marcli. He liimself proceeded to Pontarlier. 
In that strong position he hoped to be able at least to 
give the troops a short rest. No large body of the 
Germans had been met with so far, the ammunition 
columns had got safely through, and if they could but 
reach the defiles of Vaux, Les-Planches, and St. Lau- 
rent before the enemy, and hold them, there was still a 
possibility of escape to the southwards. 

On the evening of the 27th PouUet's division was at 
Levier, nearest to the Grermans, the two other divisions 
under General Cremer, with the Fifteenth and Twen- 
tieth Corps, were echelonned on the road between Or- 
nans and Sombacourt ; the Eighteenth Corps was alone 
on the eastern road by Nods. The Twenty-fourth, in 
a miserable condition, extended to Montbenoit, with its 
head at Pontarlier ; two divisions were still in Besan^on. 

On this day General von Fransecky collected the 
main body of the Second Corps at Arbois, and rein- 
forced General du Trossel's lines at Pont d'Hery. 

The Fourteenth Corps relieved the 14th Division of 
the Seventh Corps at St. Vit; this advanced to the 
right of the 13th Division into the ravine of the Loue, 
which the French had already abandoned. 

On the north. General von Debschitz held Blamont 
and Pont-du-Roide, while General von Schmeling kept 
watch on Besan^on from St. Juan, and General von 
der Goltz marched on Arbois to form a reserve. 

(January 28th.) Suspecting that the French were 
akeady on the march by Champagnole on St. Lau- 
rent, General Fransecky, to cut off that line of retreat, 
advanced on the following day in a southerly direction 
with the Second Corps. 

General du Trossel reached Champagnole without 
opposition, and sent his cavalry down the road on 
Pontarher. Lieutenant-Colonel von Guretzky arrived 


at Nozeroy with a squadron of the 11th Dragoons, and 
found the place occupied ; but he seized fifty-six com- 
missariat-wagons, and stole the field treasure-chest, 
taking the escort prisoners. 

The 5th and 6th Brigades advanced on Pohgny and 

' The 13th Division of the Seventh Corps, being re- 
lieved at Quingey by the Baden troops, assembled at 
La-Chapelle, while the 14th advanced on Deservillers. 
Its head, at Bolandoz, did not meet the enemy, but 
found his camp-fires still smouldering, so that the main 
body of the French was not overtaken that day. 

General Clinchant had in fact moved his corps closer 
on Pontarlier. But it soon became evident that sup- 
plies could not be counted on for any long stay. Gen- 
eral Cremer received orders that night to advance at 
once on Les-Planches and St. Laurent with three 
cavalry regiments, akeady on the road to Mouthe. 
The mountain roads were deep in snow, but he reached 
the points designated, by a forced march, by the next 
afternoon. The Twenty-fourth Corps and a brigade 
of PouUet's division followed next day, this last plac- 
ing two battalions to occupy Bonnevaux at the entrance 
to the defile of Vaux. On the evening of the 28th the 
rest of the French army was distributed as follows : 
The Eighteenth Corps was behind the Drugeon at 
Houtaud close before Pontarlier ; the 1st Division of 
the Fifteenth had advanced to Sombacourt, beyond the 
stream, the 3rd Division was in the town. On the left 
the 2nd and 3rd Divisions of the Twentieth Corps held 
the villages from Chaffois to Frasne, and on the right 
the Army Reserve occupied Byans. 

General von Manteuffel had ordered a general ad- 
vance for the 29th on Pontarlier, where the French at 
last must certainly be found. 


(January 29tli.) General Koblinsky, of the Second 
Corps, had set out from Poligny before daylight. 
When he reached Champagnole and had assembled the 
whole of the 5th Brigade, he advanced at about seven 
o'clock. General du Trossel with the 7th Brigade 
reached Censeau without finding the enemy. 

On the right Colonel von WedeU had marched from 
Pont-du-Navoy on Les-Planches with four battalions 
of the 6th Brigade. He found only dismounted troop- 
ers, posts probably left by General von Cremer, who 
were easily dispersed by the Jagers. Detachments 
were then sent out on all sides, and everywhere met 
with scattered troops ; but at Foncine-le-Bas the head 
of the Twenty-fourth Corps was found, and Colonel 
von Wedell now cut off their line of retreat, the last 
that had been left open. 

With the rest of the Second Corps General von Hart- 
mann marched unopposed on Nozeroy. 

The 14th Division of the Seventh Corps had not 
received the order to advance on Pontarlier till some- 
what late; it did not start from Deservillers till the 
afternoon, and only reached Levier at three o'clock, 
where, at the same hour, the head of the 13th Divis- 
ion also arrived from Villeneuve-d'^mont, the state 
of the roads having greatly delayed them on the 

The advanced guard of three battahons, haK a 
squadron, and one battery, had met only stragglers on 
their way, and General von Zastrow commanded them 
to advance on the Drugeon. Through the woods on 
the left of the road compact detachments of the French 
were retiring on Sombacourt, and Major von Breder- 
low, with the 1st Battahon of the 77th Eegiment, made 
a flank movement on that village. The 2nd Company, 
under Captain von Vietinghof, made its way in by 


Sept-Fontaines with loud cheers, and was at first sur- 
rounded by a strong force of the enemy ; however, the 
other companies soon came to its assistance. The 1st 
Division of the Fifteenth Corps (French) was com- 
pletely routed without the reserve close at hand in 
Byans having come to its support. Fifty officers, 
including two generals, were taken prisoners, with 
2700 men; ten guns, seven mitrailleuses, forty-eight 
wagons, 319 horses, and 3500 stand of arms fell into 
the hands of the Hanoverian battalion which was left 
in occupation of Sombacourt. 

The remainder of the advanced guard had meanwhile 
advanced on Chaffois, where the road opens out from 
the mountain gorge into the broad vaUey of the Dru- 
geon. The place was occupied, as we have seen, by 
the 2nd Division of the Twentieth Corps (French). 

Colonel von Cosel attacked at once. Three com- 
panies of the 53rd Regiment surprised the French 
picket and seized the first houses in the village, but 
then the mass of the French Eighteenth Corps stopped 
their further advance. By degrees all the forces at 
hand became engaged, as well as the reinforcements 
brought up from the main body of the 14th Division. 
The fight had lasted with great obstinacy for an hour 
and a half, when suddenly the French ceased firing 
and laid down their arms. They appealed to the ar- 
mistice already agreed on. 

Monsieur Jules Favi'e had, in fact, telegraphed to 
Bordeaux at a quarter past eleven on the night of the 
28th, that an armistice of twenty-one days had been 
concluded, without adding that, with his consent, the 
three eastern departments had been excepted from it. 
The information, in this imperfect form, was trans- 
mitted to the civil authorities by the Chambers at 
12.15 at noon of the 29th ; but Monsieur Freycinet did 


not forward it to the military authorities, whom it 
principally concerned, till 3.30 in the afternoon. 

Thus could General Clinchant, in all good faith, 
transmit to General Thornton, in command of the di- 
vision at Chaffois, a message which, as regarded the 
Army of the East, was altogether incorrect. He at once 
sent a staff officer to the Prussian advanced guard, who 
were still firing, requiring them to cease on the strength 
of the official message. 

General von Manteuffel, at Arbois, had received, at 
five in the morning, full particulars from head-quar- 
ters of the terms of the armistice, by which the army 
in the south was to continue operations till further 
orders. General orders announcing this to all the 
troops were at once sent out, but did not reach the 
Seventh Corps till evening. 

Nothing was known there of any armistice; how- 
ever, the news might be on the way, and General von 
Zastrow granted the temporary cessation of hostilities, 
and even released his prisoners, but without their 

Chaffois, with the exception of a few farmsteads, 
remained in the hands of the 14th Division (German), 
who found such quarters there as they might ; the 13th 
retired to the villages from Sept-Fontaines to Deser- 

(January 30th.) In full confidence in the news from 
the seat of Government, General Clinchant, on the 
30th, stopped the retreat of his army. The newly- 
appointed Commander of the Twenty-fourth Corps, 
General Comagny, also gave up his intended attempt 
to cut his way with 10,000 men through Colonel von 
Wedell's small brigade at Foncine. The other corps 
remained, after the unfortunate issue of the evening's 
fight, close pressed at Pontarlier ; but detachments of 


troopers were sent out one by one on the roads to Be- 
sangon and St. Laurent, to establish a line of demarca- 
tion, and also to keep up communications with the 
fortress and with the south. 

After receiving the general orders at about eleven 
at night, General Zastrow informed the French in his 
front of the resumption of hostilities, but restricted 
his immediate demands to the complete evacuation of 
Chaffois, which was agreed to. Otherwise the corps 
remained where it was, and inactive. 

General du Trossel, of the Second Corps, had set 
out very early from Censeau, but the appearance of a 
French flag of truce, and his fear of offending against 
the law of nations, here too occasioned considerable 
delay. The woods of Frasne were not clear of the 
French till evening. Lieutenant-Colonel von Guretzky 
made his way into the village with quite a small force, 
and took the twelve officers and 1500 men who held it 
prisoners, with two colors. The 5th Brigade then also 
arrived at Frasne ; the rest of the corps occupied the 
same quarters as on the previous day. 

A flag of truce had also been sent to Les-Planches, 
but Colonel von Wedell had simply dismissed the 
bearer. The outposts of the Foui'teenth Corps did the 

On the north of Pontarlier, General von Schmeling 
advanced on Pierre-Fontaine, General von Debschitz 
on Maiche. 

(January 31st.) On the morning of this day the 
French Colonel Varaigne made his appearance at Gen- 
eral von Manteuffel's head-quarters at ViUeneuve to 
propose that a cessation of hostilities for thirty-six 
hours should be agreed upon, till all doubts could be 
removed ; but this was refused, as the German General 
had no doubts whatever. Permission was granted for 


a direct application to Versailles, but it was at the 
same time explained that the movements of the Army 
of the South would not be suspended till the arrival of 
the answer. 

On this day, however, the Second Army Corps 
marched only on Dompierre on a line with the Seventh, 
its advanced guard pushing forward to the Drugeon 
on Ste. Colombe and La-Riviere. Thence, in the even- 
ing, a company of Colberg's Grenadiers crossed the 
steep mountain ridge and descended on La Planee, 
where it took 500 prisoners. On the right a flanking 
detachment of two battalions and one battery under 
Lieutenant-Colonel Liebe marched unopposed up the 
gorge from Bonnevaux to Vaux, taking 2 officers and 
688 men prisoners. The French then abandoned the 
defile of Granges-Ste.-Marie and retired on St. Antoine 
in the mountains. 

The corps had found every road strewn with cast- 
away arms and camp utensils and had captured 4000 
men in all. 

As soon as the enemy had been informed that hos- 
tilities were resumed, the 14th Division of the Seventh 
Corps extended on the left along the Drugeon as far 
as La-Vrine, whence a connection was eifected with 
the 4th Reserve Division of the Fourteenth Corps at 
St. Gorgon. The 13th Division advanced on Sept- 
Fontaines. Pontarlier was now completely surrounded, 
and General von Manteuffel had fixed February 1st for 
the attack. The Second Corps was to advance from 
the south-west, the Seventh from the north-west ; Gen- 
eral von der Goltz was to remain at Levier with a 
reserve force. 

Meanwhile the French Commander-in-chief had con- 
ceived doubts as to whether the communications from 
Government were perfectly correct. The passes over 


the mountains to the south were now lost, and an 
escape in that direction was no longer to be hoped for. 
General Clinchant had already sent back the baggage 
and ammunition columns, the sick and the exhausted, 
through La-Cluse under shelter of the forts of Joux 
and Neuv. And when in the afternoon a message from 
Bordeaux announced that in fact the Army of the East 
had been excluded from the armistice, the Commander- 
in-chief called a council of war. Every Greneral present 
declared that he could no longer answer for his troops. 
He himself therefore went out the same evening to 
Les-Verrieres, to conclude negotiations he had aheady 
opened, by which on the following day, February 1st, 
the army was to cross the frontier into Switzerland by 
three separate roads. 

To cover this retreat, the Army Reserve was to hold 
Pontarlier till all the baggage-trains had crossed the 
ridge at La-Cluse, and the Eighteenth Corps was to 
occupy a position between the two forts. Fortifica- 
tions were at once begun. So much of the Fifteenth 
Corps as had failed to get beyond Morez with the 
cavalry was to try to cross into Switzerland at any 
available point. 

(February 1st.) When the advanced guard of the 
Second Corps (German) marched on Pontarlier from 
Ste. Colombe it met with but slight resistance at the 
railway station. Colberg's Grenadiers took possession 
of the town without a struggle, took many prisoners, 
and then found the roads beyond entirely blocked by 
guns and wagons. 

They were toiling along with great difficulty through 
deep snow. Just in front of La-Cluse the road winds 
up between high walls of rock to a large cirque formed 
by the Doubs, which is completely commanded by the 
fortified castle of Joux on an isolated knoll of rock. 


On debouching into this valley the foremost companies 
were received by a hot fire. Four guns, dragged up 
with the greatest difficulty, could do nothing against 
the heavy guns of the fort, so the French themselves 

Colberg's Fusihers had meanwhile scaled the heights 
to the left, followed by the 2nd Battalion of the regi- 
ment and a battalion of the 49th, who drove the French 
out of the farmsteads and rifts on the plateau. The 
steep cliff on the right was also scaled, several files of 
the 49th Eegiment clambered down the slopes above 
La-Cluse, and Colberg's Grenadiers advanced to the 
foot of Fort Neuv. 

To take the castle by storm was obviously impossi- 
ble, and the nature of the country is such as almost to 
prohibit the escape of a defeated enemy. Of the French 
twenty-three officers and 1600 men were taken, and 
400 loaded wagons ; of the Oermans nineteen officers 
and 365 men were killed, mostly of Colberg's regiment. 
The troops spent the night on the field. 

As no large force could be brought into action at 
La-Cluse, General von Fransecky had ordered the main 
body of the corps to march to the south on Ste. Marie. 
To avoid the necessity of crossing ^the chain of the 
Jura, General von Hartmann marched first on Pontar- 
lier to avail himseK of the better roads from thence, 
but there he was detained, the fight at La-Cluse having 
assumed unexpected proportions. The Seventh Corps 
and the 4th Reserve Division also, which had reached 
the Doubs at noon, were equally unable to get at the 

During the whole day the French columns were 
crossing the Swiss frontier. The Army Reserve in 
Pontarher was from the beginning carried away by 
the tide of baggage-wagons and di'ivers, and only joined 


the Eighteenth Corps on reaching La-Cluse. During 
the night they both followed in the general line of re- 
treat. Only the cavalry and a few hundred men of 
the First Division of the Twenty-fourth Corps reached 
the department of I'Ain, the next to the south ; 80,000 
French crossed on to Swiss soil. 

General Manteuffel had transferred his head-quar- 
ters to Pontarlier. Only then, and not till night, did 
he hear from Berlin of the agreement between General 
Clinchant and the Swiss Colonel Herzog. 

General von Manteuffel had achieved the important 
success of his three weeks' campaign through a suc- 
cession of fights, but without a pitched battle since 
quitting the Lisaine, simply by marches ; such marches, 
indeed, as none but well-seasoned troops could have 
accomplished under bold and skilful leadership, under 
every form of f atigile and hardship, in the worst season 
and through a difficult country. 

Thus two French armies were now prisoners in Ger- 
many, a third interned in the capital, and the fourth 
disarmed on foreign soil. 


It only remains to glance back on the advance on 
Dijon, which had been entrusted to the command of 
General Hann von Weyhern on January 26th. 

On that same day Garibaldi was appealed to, to take 
some energetic measure against Dole and Mouchard. 

To support him, the Government, indefatigable in 
the evolution of new forces, were to send 15,000 Gardes 
Mobiles under General Crouzat from Lyons to Lons- 
le-Saulnier, and a Twenty-sixth Corps in course of 
formation at Chatellerault was to be detached to 
Beaune. As it was beyond doubt that General von 
Manteuffel had marched with a strong force, to cut off 


the communications of the Army of the East, an order 
was transmitted on the 27th to the Commander of the 
torces in the Vosges, to leave only from 8000 to 10,000 
men in Dijon and to advance at once with the main 
body beyond Dole. 

But the General was anxious for Dijon ; he occu- 
pied the principal positions on the slopes of the Cote- 
d'Or and detached a small force to St.-Jean-de-Losne, 
behind the Canal-de-Bourgogne. Nothing had as yet 
been seen of 700 volunteers who had marched on 

Langres had shown a little more energy, several, and 
often successful, sorties of small outpost companies and 
depot troops had been led out from time to time. 

General Hann von Weyhern's purpose of attacking 
Dijon from the south had to be abandoned, because 
the bridge over the Saone at St.-Jean-de-Losne had 
been destroyed. He, therefore, on the 29th crossed 
the river at Apremont, and on the 31st assembled his 
detachment at Arc-sur-Tille. Here again General 
Bordone, the Chief of the General Staif of the Army of 
the Vosges, vainly appealed to the supposed armistice. 
On the 31st, General von Kettler marched as an ad- 
vanced guard on Varois. To cut off the enemy's com- 
munications with Auxonne, a detachiQent on the left 
held the bridge over the Ouche at Fauverney. The 
first shells drove the French back on their intrenched 
position between St. Apollinaire and Mirande. 

When the attempt to bring about an armistice had 
failed. General Bordone determined to evacuate Dijon 
in the course of the night and retire on to really neu- 
tral ground. Thus, on February 1st, the head of the 
advanced guard found the outworks abandoned, and 
General von Kettler marched in without any opposi- 
tion, just as the last train of French troops moved out 


of the railway-station. Sombernon and Nuits were 
also occupied on the 2nd. 


Nothing now remained for General von Manteuffel 
but to effect a military occupation of the Departments 
he had invaded, and to protect them from without. 

General Pelissier was still within their limits, having 
reached Lons-le-Saulnier from Lyons with the 15,000 
Gardes Mobiles joined by the battalions sent back 
from Besan(jon by General Eolland, numerically a by 
no means insignificant force, but of no gi'eat practical 
use. The commanders were recommended to retire 
and avoid further bloodshed ; and they did so, as soon 
as some detachments of the Second Corps (German) 
advanced on Lons-le-Saulnier and St. Laurent. Others 
occupied Mouthe and Les-AUemands, where twenty- 
eight guns had been abandoned by the French. The 
Swiss frontier was watched by eight battalions for 
security. The forts of Salins, the little fortress of 
Auxonne, and Besangon from the east side, were kept 
under observation. 

Although the Department of Haute-Marne was in- 
cluded in the armistice, the commandant of Langres 
had refused to recognize the authority of the Govern- 
ment. So this place had to be invested, and perhaps 
besieged. General von der Goltz was first ordered to 
march on it, and General von Krenski was already 
advancing with seven battalions, two squadrons, and 
two batteries with a siege train from Longwy, which 
he had reduced to capitulation on January 25th, after 
a bombardment of six days' duration. But it was not 
called into requisition at Langres. 

General von Manteuffel aimed at no further tactical 


results ; lie was anxious to save Ms troops from further 
losses, and to afford them all possible respite after 
their unusual exertions. Not till now was the baggage 
brought up, even that of the staff officers having been 
necessarily left behind during the advance through the 
Jura. The troops were distributed for the sake of com- 
fort in roomy quarters, but in readiness for action at 
any moment, the Second Corps in Jura, the Seventh 
in Cote-d'Or, the Fourteenth in Doubs. But the siege 
of Belfort was to be stringently carried on. 


Immediately after the battle on the Lisaine the forces 
investing Belfort were increased to 27 battalions, 6 
squadrons, 6 field batteries, 24 companies of garrison 
artillery, and 6 companies of sappers and miners ; in 
all 17,602 infantry, 4699 artillery, and 1166 engineers 
=23,467 men, with 707 horses and 34 field-guns. 

While the town was invested on the north and west 
by only a few battalions, the main force was assembled 
to the south and east. 

On January 20th, the batteries on the east opened a 
hot fire on Perouse. Colonel Denfert inferred that an 
attack was imminent, and put four battalions of his 
most trusted troops into the village, Vhich was forti- 
fied for an obstinate defence. 

At about midnight, two battalions of the 67th Regi- 
ment advanced from Chevremont without firing a shot 
on the Haut-Taillis wood. Only inside it there was a 
determined struggle, but the French were driven back 
on the village, and the sappers immediately intrenched 
the skirt of the wood towards Perouse under a heavy 
fire from the fort. 

Half an hour later two Landwehr battalions advanced 
from Bessoncourt to the copse on the north of the 


village. They were received with a sharp fire, but 
made their way onward over abatis, pits, and wire-en- 
tanglements, driving the enemy back into the quarries. 

A brisk fire was now opened on both sides, but the 
67th presently renewed the attack, and without allow- 
ing themselves to be checked at the earthworks, forced 
their way into Perouse. They took possession of the 
eastern end of the straggling village at about half- 
past two, and the party defending the quarries find- 
ing themselves threatened, retreated. At five o'clock, 
Colonel Denfert surrendered the western part of the 
position, which was now occupied by the Germans. 

They had lost eight officers and 178 men ; the French 
left five ofiicers and ninety-three men prisoners. 

(January 21st to 27th.) The next day the first 
parallel was thrown up along a front of 1800 metres 
from Donjoutin to Haut-Taillis. Five battalions and 
two companies of sappers were engaged in this work, 
and undisturbed by the French; but the rocky soil 
prohibited its being constructed of the usual width. 

General von Tresckow already believed that he might 
proceed to storm the two forts of Perches. Two half- 
closed redoubts with perpendicular ditches cut three 
metres deep out of the rock, casemated traverses and 
bomb-proof block-houses in the gorge, insured protec- 
tion for the defenders. They were armed with seven 
12-cm. guns in each. The works were connected by 
trenches, behind which a reserve force was in readiness. 

On the right flank this position was protected by a 
battalion and counter-batteries in Le-Fourneau; on 
the left the wood, which was not more than 600 paces 
distant, was cleared, and wire-entanglements between 
the stumps formed an almost impenetrable obstacle. 
In front the gentle slope of the hill was under the 
cross-fire of the two forts. 


As soon as the construction of the parallel was suffi- 
ciently advanced, on the evening of the 26th, to allow 
of its being occupied by larger detachments, the storm- 
ing was begun. Two columns of one battalion, one 
company of sappers, and two guns proceeded to the 
attack at daybreak on January 27th. Two companies 
of Schneidemiihl's Landwehr Battalion advanced on 
the front of Basses-Perches and threw themselves on 
the ground within sixty to 100 metres in front of the 
works. A party of sharp-shooters and a few sappers 
got to the ditch and unhesitatingly leaped in ; the two 
other companies, going round the fort to the left, had 
reached the rear, and here too the men jumped into 
the ditch of the gorge. But the French, who had been 
driven out of their shelter-trenches, had now re-assem- 
bled, and the battalion advanced from Le-Fourneau. 
All the forts of the place opened fire on the clear and 
unprotected space in front of the parallel, and an at- 
tempt to cross it on the part of the reserve force failed. 
The 7th Company of the Landwehr Battalion were 
surrounded by superior numbers, and after a brave 
struggle were for the most part taken prisoners. Most 
of the men in the ditch were still able to escape. 

The advance of the right column against Hautes- 
Perches also failed. It had to cross 1000 metres of 
open ground. An attempt to smTound the fort did 
not succeed; it was im}3ossible to get through the 
abatis and other obstacles under the fire of the French. 

This disastrous attempt to storm the place cost 10 
officers and 427 men ; the slower engineering operations 
had to be resumed. 

(January 28th and February 15th.) As the Germans 
got nearer to the forts the flying sap could be carried 
forward about 300 metres every night without any 
opposition from the enemy. In spite of all the diffi- 


culties caused by the nature of the soil, by February 
1st the second parallel had been advanced half-way to 
the forts of Les-Perches. 

As the Fort-de-la- Justice was a particular hindrance 
to the works, two batteries had to be constructed to 
the east of Perouse to bear upon it. Four mortar-bat- 
teries on the flank of the parallel could now fire on 
Haute and Basse-Perches at very short range. Three 
batteries were also placed in the Bois-des-Perches to 
attack the castle, and one on the skirt of the wood by 
Bavilliers against the main work. Henceforward 1500 
shell a day were fired on the fortress and outworks. 

But the progi^ess of the attack became more and 
more difficult. General Debschitz, by retiring, had seri- 
ously reduced the working strength of the besieging 
force. The loss in sappers was particularly serious, 
and two new companies had to be brought up from 
Strasburg. The bright moonlight lighting up the 
sheets of snow far and wide made it impossible to pro- 
ceed with the flying saps. Sap-roUers were called into 
requisition ; the heads of the saps had to be protected 
by sand-bags and the sides by gabions, while the earth 
for filling had often to be brought from a long distance 
in the rear. 

On the top of this, on February 3rd, a thaw set in, 
and the water from the slopes filled the trenches, so 
that all intercourse had to be across the open gi-ound. 
Torrents of rain damaged the finished works ; the para- 
pet of the first parallel gave way in places and the ban- 
quette was washed away. The arming of the batteries 
was most laborious with the ground in such a state, 
and the teams of the columns and field artillery had to 
be employed in bringing in ammunition. 

Several guns had become useless by overheating, 
while the enemy, by rapidly running out their guns, 


firing, and then running them back again, greatly dis- 
turbed the work. Not merely was it necessary to 
continue the shelling of Les-Perches during the night, 
but a brisk rifle fire had to be kept up. Only now 
and then did the batteries newly placed in the parallels 
succeed in silencing the guns of Hautes-Perches. Gun 
epaulments were erected to front Fort Bellevue, 
and the fortified railway station and Fort-des-Barres 
brought into action again. That under such toil and 
the unfavorable weather the health of the troops must 
have suffered severely need not be said ; the battalions 
could often only muster 300 men for duty. 

Meanwhile, however, the artillery of the attack had 
become very much stronger than that of the defenders, 
and, in spite of every obstacle, the saps were pushed 
on to the edge of the ditch of Les-Perches. 

On February 8th, at one in the afternoon. Captain 
Roese had the sap rollers flung into the ditch of Hautes- 
Perches, sprang into it with five sappers, and rapidly 
scaled the parapet by the steps hewn in the escarp. 
He was immediately followed by the trench-guard, but 
no French were surprised excepting a few in the case- 
mated traverses. 

The situation of the garrison of the fort had in fact 
become most critical. Ammunition could only be 
fetched under the enemy's fire, water only be had from 
the pond at Vernier, and only boiled inside the works. 
Colonel Denfert had already given orders to conceal 
the materiel. Unseen by the besiegers, those guns of 
which the carriages could still be moved had been 
withdrawn, and only one company left in each fort, 
who, in case of a surprise, were to fire and escape. 
Nothing was to be found in the abandoned works but 
wrecked gun-carriages and four damaged guns. This 
fort was at once so adapted that its front should face 


the fortress, but at three o'clock the main work opened 
such a destructive fire on the lost positions that the 
men were forced to take shelter in the ditches. 

The garrison in Basses-Perches attempted some re- 
sistance, but supported by a reserve they soon retired 
on Le-Fourneau, leaving five guns and much battered 

Here also the fire from the main work at first pre- 
vented the work of restoration, but four 15-cm. mortars 
were at last brought into the fort, and two 9-cm. guns 
placed on the spur of the hill to the westward, now 
directed their fire on Le-Fourneau and Bellevue. 
During the night of the 9th the works were connected 
by a shelter-trench 624 metres long, and thus a third 
parallel was established. 

By this time they were in a position to direct the 
immediate attack on the castle, and on this the bat- 
teries in the Bois-des-Perches and those in the second 
paraUel opened fire. Moitte, Justice, and Bellevue 
were shelled simultaneously. General von Debschitz 
had returned, and the investing corps was by this 
means again reinforced to its full numbers, and all the 
conditions were improved by the return of the frost. 
By the 13th ninety-seven guns were mounted ready 
in the third parallel. 

The town had suffered terribly from the prolonged 
bombardment. Nearly all the buildings were damaged, 
fifteen completely burnt down ; also in the adjoining 
villages 164 houses had been destroyed by the defend- 
ers themselves. The fortifications showed not less 
visible signs of destruction, particularly the castle. 
The stone facing of their walls had crumbled into the 
ditch. Half of the mantleted embrasm-es had been 
shattered, the expense powder magazines had been 
blown up, and a number of casemated traverses broken 


through. The guns in the highest positions could only 
be reached by ladders. The original strength of the 
garrison had been 372 officers and 17,322 men, but 
they had lost 32 officers and 4713 men, besides 336 
citizens. The place was no longer tenable ; in addition 
to this came the news that the army by whom they 
expected to be relieved had laid down their arms. 

Under these circumstances General von Tresckow 
summoned the Commandant after such a brave defence 
to surrender the fort, with a free retreat for the garri- 
son, this stipulation having the sanction of his Majesty. 
The French Government themselves had given the 
Commandant permission to accept these terms ; how- 
ever, Colonel Denfert insisted that he must have a 
more direct order. To procure this an officer was sent 
to Basle, whilst there was a provisional armistice. 

On the 15th a treaty was signed at Versailles, which 
extended the armistice to the three departments which 
till then had been excluded from it, and also to Belf ort ; 
but the 1st article demanded the surrender of that 

After the conclusion of the definitive treaty, the gar- 
rison, in the course of the 17th and 18th, with its arms 
and trains, left the precincts of the fort, and passed to 
L'Isle-sur-Doubs and St. Hyppolyte on French terri- 
tory. The march was effected in echelons of 1000 men 
at intervals of 5 km., the last accompanied by Colonel 
Denfert. The provisions which had been stored in the 
fort were carried after them in 150 Prussian baggage- 
wagons. At three o'clock in the afternoon on the 18th 
February, Lieutenant-General von Tresckow entered 
the place at the head of detachments of all the troops 
of the investing corps. 

They found 341 guns, of which 56 were useless, 356 
gun-carriages, of which 119 were shot to pieces, and 


22,000 stand of arms, besides considerable supplies of 
ammunition and provisions. 

The siege had cost the Germans 88 officers and 2049 
men, 245 of whom were released from imprisonment 
by the capitulation. Immediately the work of restor- 
ing and arming the fort began, and the leveUing of the 




On the basis of the agreement of the 28th January 
a line of demarcation was drawn, from which both 
parties were to withdraw their outposts to a distance 
of 10 km. The line ran south from the mouth of the 
Seine as far as the Sarthe, crossed the Loire at Saumur, 
following the Creuse, turned eastward past Vierzon, 
Clamecy and Chagny, and then met the Swiss frontier, 
after passing to the north of Chalons-sur-Saone and 
south of Lons-le-Saulnier and St. Laurent. The de- 
partments of Pas-de-Calais and du Nord, as well as the 
promontory of Havre, were particularly excluded. 

The remainder of the forts held by French troops 
within the provinces of which the G-ermans had taken 
possession were allowed a radius in proportion to their 

In carrying out the details of the agreement a liberal 
interpretation was in several places allowed. The 
assent of those members of the National Defence Com- 
mittee who were in Paris was obtained ; but the dele- 
gates at Bordeaux, who had hitherto conducted the 
war, at first held aloof, and, indeed, as yet had not 
been informed of the stipulations. Gambetta, how- 
ever, suspended operations, but could give the com- 
manders no more precise instructions. 

G-eneral Faidherbe was thus without orders with 
regard to the evacuation of Dieppe and Abbeville. 


General von Goeben, however, deferred taking posses- 
sion. On the west of the Seine, the Grand Duke was 
forced to announce that the non-recognition of the hne 
of demarcation would result in an immediate recom- 
mencement of hostihties. 

The Commandant of the garrison at Langres also 
raised difficulties, and only retreated within his rayon 
on the 7th February, as, later on, did General Eolland 
in Besangon. Auxonne refused to surrender the rail- 
way. Bitsch, which had not been worth the trouble 
of a serious attack, rejected the convention ; the in- 
vestment had therefore to be strengthened, and only 
in March, when threatened with a determined attack, 
did the garrison abandon its peak of rock. 

Also the volunteers did not acquiesce at once, and 
there were skirmishes with them in various places. 
But after the conditions were finally settled, no more 
serious quarrels took place between the inhabitants 
and the German troops during the whole course of the 

All the German corps outside Paris had occupied 
the forts lying in their front, more particularly the 
Fifth that of Mont-Valerien, and the Fourth the town 
of St. Denis. The ground between the forts and the 
walls remained neutral ground, which only civihans 
were allowed to cross, along particular roads placed 
under control of German examining troo. 

In their anxiety as to the indignation of the people, 
the French Government had so long hesitated to pro- 
nounce the word capitulation that now, even with free 
ingi-ess of supplies, Paris was threatened with an out- 
break of real famine. The unnecessary stores in the 
German magazines were therefore placed at the disposal 
of the authorities. The Commander-in-chief, the Gov- 
ernment authorities, and the mihtary inspectors re- 


ceived orders to place no difficulties in the way of the 
repairing of the railways and roads in their districts, 
and they were even allowed to make use of the rail- 
roads which the invaders used to supply their own 
army, under German direction. Nevertheless, the first 
provision train only arrived in Paris on February 3rd, 
and it was the middle of the month before the French 
had succeeded in remedying the prevalent distress in 
the capital. 

The G-erman prisoners were at once given up. The 
surrender of arms and military materiel followed by 
degrees, also the 200 million francs ransom imposed 
on the city. 

But it was still doubtful if the party of war " a ou- 
rance " in Bordeaux would agree with the arrangement 
of the Paris Government, and if at last the National 
Assembly, which was about to be convened, would 
accept the conditions of peace made by the conquerors. 
Such measures as were necessary in case the war 
should break out again were therefore taken on the 
French as well as on the German side. 

The distribution of the French army at the close of 
the armistice was not a favorable one. 

By General Faidherbe's advice the whole Army of 
the North was disbanded, as being too weak to face 
the strength of the forces that stood opposite to them. 
After the Twenty-second Corps had been transported 
by sea to Cherbourg, the Army of Bretagne, under 
General de Colombo, was made up of this, with the 
Twenty-seventh and part of the Nineteenth Corps, and 
including Lipowski's volunteers, CatheUneau's and 
others, amounted to 150,000 men. General Loysel, 
with 30,000 ill-armed and inexperienced Gardes Mo- 
biles, remained in the trenches before Havi^e. 

General Chanzy, after his retreat on Mayenne, had 


made a movement to the left, in order to assist in a 
new plan of action with the Second Army of the Loire, 
with its base at Caen, which, however, was never car- 
ried out. The Eighteenth, Twenty-first, Sixteenth, 
and Twenty-sixth Corps stood between the Lower 
Loire and the Cher from Angers to Chateauroux, about 
100,000 men strong, the Twenty-fifth under Greneral 
Pourcet at Bourges, and General de Pointe's corps at 
Nevers. The Army of the Vosges had withdrawn to 
the south of Chalon-sur-Saone, and the remainder of 
the Army of the East assembled under General Cremer 
at Chambery as the Twenty-fourth Corps. 

The total of all the field troops amounted to 534,452 
men. The volunteers, even the most reliable, were 
dismissed, and the National Guard were for the present 
regarded as incapaUes de rendre aiiciin service a la 
guerre. In the barracks, the manoeuvi'ing camps, and 
in Algiers there were still 354,000 men, and 132,000 
were on the muster-rolls as recruits in 1871, but had 
not yet been told oif . 

If the war should be persisted in, a plan for limiting 
it to defensive measures in the south-east of France 
had been suggested, for which, however, according to 
the report sent on February 8th by the Committee of 
Inquiry to the National Assembly, scarcely more than 
252,000 men in fighting condition were available. The 
fleet, besides, had given up so considerable a number 
of its men and guns for service on land, that it was no 
longer able for any great undertaking at sea. 

On the German side the first consideration was to 
restore the troops to their war-standing, and make 
good the stores of materiel. 

The forts round Paris were at once armed on the 
fronts facing the city walls. In and between these 
stood 680 guns, 145 of which had been taken from the 


French ; they were more than enough to keep the rest- 
less population under control. A part of the forces 
which till then had been occupied with the siege, being 
no longer required, were removed, in order that all the 
troops might have better accommodation. Besides, it 
seemed desirable to strengthen the Second Army which 
faced the enemy's principal force ; in consequence the 
Fourth Corps marched on Nogent-le-Rotrou, the Fifth 
on Orleans, and the Ninth, which was relieved there, 
on Vendome ; so that now the quarters of this army 
extended from Alengon to Tours, and up the Loire as 
far as Gien and Auxerre. 

The First Army was in the north with the Eighth 
Corps on the Somme, and on both sides of the Lower 
Seine ; in the south the Army of the South occupied 
the line of demarcation from Baume to Switzerland, 
and the country in the rear. 

At the end of February the invading field-army 
standing on French ground consisted of: — 

Infantiy . 464,221 men with 1674 guns. 
Cavahy . 55,562 horses. 

Troops in garrison : — 

Infantry . 105,272 men with 68 guns. 
Cavahy . 5,681 horses, n 

Total . 630,736 men and 1742 guns. 

Reserve forces left in Germany: — 
3,288 officers. 
204,684 men. 
26,603 horses. 

Arrangements were made, that in case of a recom- 
mencement of hostilities, the strongest resistance could 
be made at all points. The armistice had nearly 
reached its end, and the troops had already been more 


closely collected to be ready to advance first of all on 
the offensive, towards the south, when the clerk of the 
Council announced that the armistice was extended to 
the 24th, and again prolonged to midnight on the 26th. 

Considerable difficulties had arisen from the differ- 
ences of opinion with regard to the election of the 
National Assembly, between the Government in Paris 
and the Delegation at Bordeaux. The Germans wished 
to see the choice, not of a party, but of the whole 
nation, expressed by a free suffrage. But Gambetta 
had ruled, contrary to the conditions of the armistice, 
that all those who, after December 2nd, 1851, had held 
any position in the Imperial Government should be 
regarded as ineligible. It was not till the Parisian 
Government had obtained a majority of votes by dis- 
patching several of its members to Bordeaux, and till 
the dictator had resigned on the 6th February, that 
the voting went on quickly and unhindered. 

The deputies were already assembled in Bordeaux 
by the 12th. M. Thiers was elected chief of the execu- 
tive, and went to Paris on the 19th with Jules Favre, 
determined to end the aimless war at any cost. 

Negotiations for peace were opened, and after five 
days' violent debating, when at last the Germans con- 
sented to restore Belfort to the French, the prelimi- 
naries were signed on the afternoon of the 26th. 

France agreed to surrender to Germany a part of 
Lorraine and Alsace, with the exception of Belfort, 
and a war indemnity of five milliards of francs. 

The evacuation of the places that the Germans had 
taken was to begin immediately on the ratification of 
the treaty, and be continued by degrees in proportion 
as the money was paid. As long as the German troops 
remained on French soil they were to be fed at the 
expense of France. On the other hand, no further 


requisitions were to be made by the G-ermans. Imme* 
diately after the first evacuation the French forces were 
to retire behind the Loke, with the exception of 40,000 
men in Paris and the necessary garrisons in the for- 

After the ratification of these preliminaries, further 
terms were to be discussed in Brussels, and the return 
of the French prisoners would begin. Thus the armis- 
tice was prolonged to the 12th of March ; but it was in 
the option of either of the belligerent powers to end it 
after the 3rd March by giving three days' notice. 

Finally, it was stipulated that the German Army 
should have the satisfaction of marching into Paris, 
and remaining there till the ratification of the treaty ; 
but they would restrict themselves to the quarter of 
the town lying between Point-du-Jour and the Rue du 
Faubourg-St.-Honore. This was occupied on the 1st 
March, after a parade in Longchamps before his 
Majesty of 30,000 men, consisting of 11,000 of the 
Sixth, 11,000 of the Second Bavarian, and 8000 of the 
Eleventh Army Corps. On the 3rd and 5th of March 
they were to have been relieved by other detachments 
of the same strength, but M. Thiers succeeded by the 
1st March in getting the National Assembly at Bor- 
deaux to accept the treaty, after the" deposition of the 
Napoleonic dynasty had been voted. The exchange 
of ratifications took place in the afternoon of the 2nd, 
and on the 3rd the first detachment marched back into 


By the Third Article, the whole of the land between 
the Seine and the Loire, excepting Paris, was to be 
evacuated with as little delay as possible, by both 
armies J the right bank of the former river, on the 


other hand, was only to be cleared after the conclusion 
of the definitive treaty of peace. Even then the six 
Eastern departments were still left in possession of the 
Germans as a pledge for the last three milliards ; not, 
however, occupied by more than 50,000 men. 

The order of march was drawn up at head-quarters, 
with a view no less to the comfort of the troops than 
to the reformation of the original order of battle, and 
the possibility of rapid assembly in case of need. 

The forces told off for permanent occupation of the 
ceded provinces marched thither at once. 

The reserve and Landwehr troops in Germany were 
disbanded, as well as the Baden contingent, which, 
however, for the present remained there as a mobilized 
force. The army head-quarters in Lorraine, Rheims, 
and Versailles were broken up, and their authority 
handed over to the generals in command, but in order 
to maintain order in the rear of the army, the Sixth 
and Twelfth Corps, as well as the Wiirtemberg Field 
Division, were placed under the immediate command 
of the army head-quarters. 

By March 31st the army had taken possession of the 
newly-acquired territory, bounded on the west by the 
Seine from its source to its mouth. 

The First Army was in the departments of Seine- 
Inferieure and Somme, the Second in front of Paris, 
in the departments of Oise and Seine-et-Marne, the 
Third in the departments of Aube and Haute-Marne, 
the Army of the South in the last hostile districts. 
The forts of Paris on the left bank were given up to 
the French authorities ; the siege-park and the captured 
war materiel had been carried off. In consideration 
for the wishes of the French Government, in order 
that the National Assembly might be allowed as early 
as possible to sit at Versailles, the head-quarters were 


broken up and transferred to Ferrieres, even sooner 
than had been agreed. On the 15th March his Majesty 
left Nancy for Berlin. 

All the troops that were left before Paris were placed 
under the command of the Crown Prince of Saxony, 
and General von Manteuffel was nominated Com- 
mander of the Army of Occupation. 

At the moment when Prance had freed herself by a 
heavy sacrifice, an enemy of the most dangerous char- 
acter appeared from within : the Commune in Paris. 

The 40,000 men who had been left there proved 
themselves unequal to the task of keeping the rebellious 
movement under control ; even during the siege it had 
on several occasions betrayed its presence, and now 
broke out in open civil war. Large masses of people, 
encouraged by the National Gruard and the Oarde 
Mobile, took possession of the guns and set themselves 
up in armed opposition to the Grovernment. M. Thiers 
had already, by the 18th of March, summoned to Ver- 
sailles such regiments as could still be trusted, to with- 
draw them from the dangers of party influence, and 
for the protection of the National Assembly there. 
The French capital remained destroyed, and plundered 
by the French troops. 

The Germans could have easily and quickly put an 
end to the matter, but what Government would allow 
its rights to be established by foreign bayonets I The 
German Commanders-in-chief hmited themselves to 
forbidding any rebellious disturbances within their 
own district, and to prevent any further marching into 
Paris from outside. The work of disarming, which 
had commenced, was interrupted; the troops of the 
Third Corps were drawn closer to the forts, and the 
outposts were replaced along the line of demarcation, 
where 200,000 men could be collected within two days. 


The anthorities in Paris, however, announced that 
any attempt to arm the fronts facing the Grermans 
would result in an instantaneous bombardment of the 
city. The rebels, however, were fully occupied in 
destroying and burning, and in executing their supe- 
riors in the interior of Paris. They did not turn against 
their foreign enemy, but against the Government 
chosen by the nation, and prepared for an attack on 

The leaders of the State who were there, bound by 
the conditions. of the treaty, were almost defenceless; 
meanwhile the Germans were prepared and willing to 
march up a reinforcement of 80,000 men, troops from 
Besan^on, Auxerre, and Cambrai ; and their transport 
would be furthered by the German troops in occupation 
of the districts through which they would have to 

The releasing of the prisoners had, on the contrary, 
been reduced. And these were, for the most part, the 
best disciplined of the forces ; but they might not im- 
probably join the hostile party, so at first only 20,000 
troops of the line were set free. 

General MacMahon marched on April 4th with the 
Government troops towards Paris, and entered the city 
on the 21st. As they then were engaged for eight 
days in barricade fighting, and troops of fugitives 
threatened to break through the German lines, the 
Third Army was ordered to form in closer order. The 
outposts advanced almost to the gates of the city, and 
barred all communication through them until, at the 
end of the month, Paris was again in the control of 
the Government. 

In the meantime, the negotiations commenced in 
Brussels and continued in Frankfort were making 
rapid progress, and by the 10th of May the definite 


treaty of peace, based on the preliminaries, was ready 
to be signed. The ratification on both sides followed 
within the appointed time of ten days. 

Thus a war, carried on with such a vast expenditure 
of force on both sides, was brought to an end by in- 
cessant and restless energy in the short period of seven 

Even in the first four weeks eight battles took place, 
under which the French Empire collapsed, and the 
French Army was swept from the field. 

Fresh forces, massive but incompetent, equalized the 
original numerical superiority of the Germans, and it 
needed twelve more battles to secure the decisive siege 
of the enemy's capital. 

Twenty fortified places were taken, and not a single 
day passed without a struggle, great or small. 

The war had cost the Germans many victims ; they 
lost : 6247 officers, 123,453 men, 1 flag, and 6 guns. 

The total losses of the French were incalculable ; in 
prisoners only they amounted to : — 

In Germany . . 11,860 officers, 371,981 men. 
In Paris . . 7,456 " 241,686 " 
Disarmed in Switz- ^ 

erland . . 2,192 " 88,381 " 

21,508 officers, 702,048 men. 

107 flags and eagles, 1915 field-guns, and 5526 fort- 
guns were captured. 

Strasburg and Metz, which had been alienated from 
Germany in a time of weakness, were reconquered, 
and the German Empire had risen anew. 




In the accounts of historical events, as they are handed down 
to posterity, mistakes assume the form of legends which it is 
not always easy subsequently to disprove. 

Among others is the fable which very circumstantially 
ascribes the great decisions taken in the course of the German 
campaigns, before and in 1870-71, to the consultations of 
councils of war previously convened. 

For instance, the battle of Koniggratz. 

I can relate in a few lines the circumstances under which an 
event of such far-reaching importance had birth. 

The Master of the Ordnance, Feldzeugmeister Benedek, had, 
in his advance to the northward, to secure himself against the 
Second Prussian Army marching on the east over the moun- 
tains of Schleswig. To tliis end four of his corps had one 
after another been pushed forward on his flank, and had all 
been beaten within three days. They now joined the main 
body of the Austrian Army, which had meanwliile reached 

Here, then, on June 30th, almost the whole of the Austrian 
forces were standing actually within the line of operations 
between the two Prussian armies ; but the First was already 
fighting its way to Gitschin, designated from Berhn as the 
point on which they were to concentrate, and the Second had 
also advanced close on the Upper Elbe ; thus they were both 
so near that the enemy could not attack the one without the 
other falling on his rear. His strategic advantages were nulli- 
fied by the tactical disadvantage. 


Under these circumstances, and having ah-eady lost 40,000 
men in previous battles, General Benedek gave up the advance, 
and during the night of June 30th began his retreat on Konig- 

The movement of six army corps and four cavalry divisions, 
marching in only four columns, which were necessarily very 
deep, could not be accompHshed in the course of a single day. 
They halted in close order between Trotina and Lipa; but 
when on July 2nd they were still there, it was owing to the 
extreme fatigue of the troops, and the difficulty, nay, impossi- 
bihty, of withdrawing so large a body of men beyond the Elbe, 
under the eyes of an active enemy and by a limited number of 
passages. In fact, the Austrian general could no longer 
manoeuvre ; he must fight. 

It is a noteworthy fact that neither his advance on Dubenetz 
nor his retreat on Lipa was known to the Prussians. These 
movements were concealed from the Second Army by the Elbe, 
and the cavalry of the First at that time constituted a useless 
mass of 8000 horse remaining with the corps. The four 
squadrons attached to each infantry division were of course 
not able to effect the reconnoissance, as subsequently was done 
in 1870 by a more advantageous plan of formation. 

Thus at head-quarters at Gitschin, where the King was, 
nothing certain was known. It was supposed that the main 
body of the hostile army was still advancing, and that it would 
draw up in a position with the Elbe in its front and the wings 
at the fortress of Josephstadt and Koniggratz. There were 
these two alternatives — either to outflank this strong position, 
or attack in front. 

By the first the communications of the Austrian Army 
would be so seriously threatened at Pardubitz that it might be 
compelled to retreat. But to secure such a movement the 
Second Prussian Army must take the place of the First and 
cross over to the right bank of the Elbe. At the same time 
the flank movement of the First Army, close past the enemy's 
front, might easily be interfered with, if passages enough had 
been opened. 

In the second case, success could only be hoped for if an 


advance of the Second Army on the right wing of the enemy's 
position could be combined with the attack in front. For this 
it must be kept on the left bank. 

The separation of the two armies, which was for the present 
intentionally maintained, allowed of either plan being followed ; 
but mine was the serious responsibility of advising his Majesty 

To keep both open for the present, General von Herwarth 
was ordered to occupy Pardubitz, and the Crown Prince to 
remain on the left bank of the Elbe, to reconnoitre along that 
river as weU as the Aupa and the Metau, and remove all 
obstacles which might oppose a crossing in either direction. 
At last, on July 2nd, Prince Frederick Charles was ordered, in 
the event of his finding a large force in front of the Elbe, to 
attack at once. But, on the evening of that day, it was 
announced to the Prince that the whole Austrian Army had 
marched on the Bistritz ; and, in obedience to instructions, he 
at once ordered the First Army and the Army of the Elbe to 
unite close in front of the enemy by daybreak next morning. 

General von Voigt-Rhetz brought the news at eleven o'clock 
in the evening to the King at Gitschin, and he sent him over 
to me. 

This news settled all doubts and lifted a weight from my 
mind. " Thank God ! " I said, sprang out of bed, and hastened 
across to the King, who was lodged on the other side of the 
Market Place. 

His Majesty also had gone to rest in his little camp-bed. 
After a brief explanation on my part, he said he fully under- 
stood the situation, decided on giving battle next day with all 
three armies at once, and desired me to transmit the necessary 
orders to the Crown Prince, who was at once to cross the Elbe. 

The whole interview with his Majesty had lasted barely ten 
minutes. No one else was present. 

This was the Council of War before Koniggratz. 

General von Podbielski and Major Count Wartensleben 
shared my quarters. The orders to the Second Army were 
drawn up forthwith and dispatched in duplicate by two differ- 
ent routes before midnight. One, carried by General von 


Voigt-Rhetz, informed Prince Frederick Charles of the steps to 
be taken ; the other was sent direct to Koniginhof . 

In the course of his night-ride of above six miles (German), 
Lieutenant-Colonel Count Finckenstein had to pass the out- 
posts of the Fii'st Army Corps, which was most to the rear. 
He handed to the officer on duty a special letter to be forwarded 
immediately to the general in command, ordering an immediate 
muster of the troops and an independent advance, even before 
orders should reach him from the Crown Prince. 

The position of the Austrians on July 3rd had a front of 
not more than a German mile. The Prussian armies advanced 
on it in a semicircle of about five miles in extent. But while 
in the centre the Fu'st and Second Corps of the First Ai"my 
stood before daylight close in front of the enemy, on the right 
wing General von Herwarth had to advance on the Bistritz 
from Smidar, in the dark, by very bad roads, above two miles ; 
and on the left, orders from head-quarters could not even reach 
the Crown Prince before four in the morning. It was there- 
fore decided that an engagement was to be fought with the 
centre to detain the Austrian Army for some hours. 

Above all, any possible offensive move on the part of the 
enemy must here be met, and for this the whole Third Coi-ps 
and cavalry stood at hand ; but the battle could only be decided 
by a flank movement by both the Prussian wings at once. 

I had ridden out early to the heights above Sadowa with 
my of&cers, and at eight o'clock the King also arrived there. 

It was a dull morning, and from time to time a shower fell. 
The horizon was dim, far on the right the white clouds of 
smoke showed that the head of the First Army was already 
fighting some way off, outside the villages on the Bistritz. On 
the left, in the woods of Swip, brisk rifle-fixing was audible. 
Behind the King, besides his staff were his royal guests with 
their numerous suites of adjutants, equerries and led-horses, 
in number as many as two squadrons. An Austrian battery 
seemed to have selected them to aim at, and compelled him to 
move away with a smaller following. 

Soon after. Count Wartensleben and I rode through Sadowa, 
which the enemy had already abandoned. The van-guard of 


the 8tli Division had drawn np the guns under cover of the 
tirailleurs who had been sent forward, but several shells fell 
there from a large battery at the skii-t of the wood. As we 
rode down the road we admired the coolness of a huge ox 
which went on its way heedless of the shot, and seemed deter- 
mined to charge the enemy's position. 

The formidable array of the Thii'd and Tenth Austrian 
Corps' artillery opposite the wood now prevented any attempt 
to break through it, and I was in time to countermand an 
order which had been given to do so. 

Meanwhile, further to the left, General von Fransecky had 
already acted on the offensive. After a sharp struggle he had 
driven the enemy out of the Swip woods, and got through to 
the fui'ther side. Against him he had the Fourth Austrian 
Corps ; but now the Second and part of the Third Corps turned 
on the 7th Division ; fifty-one battalions against fourteen. In 
the thick brushwood aU the detachments had got mixed, indi- 
vidual command was impossible, and, in spite of our obstinate 
resistance, whole troops were taken prisoners and others dis- 

Such a rabble rushed out of the wood at the very moment 
when the King and his staff rode up ; his Majesty looked on 
with some displeasure,* but the wounded officer who was trying 
to keep his httle troop together at once led them back into the 
fight. In spite of heavy losses, the division got possession of 
the northern side of the wood. It had drawn down on itself 
very large forces of the enemy, which were subsequently miss- 
ing in the positions they ought to have defended. 

It was now eleven o'clock. The head of the First Army 
had crossed the Bistritz and taken most of the villages along 
its banks ; but these were only the enemy's outposts, which he 
had no serious intention of guarding. His main corps held a 
position in the rear from whence, with 250 guns, it commanded 
the open plains which the Prussians must cross in order to 
attack. On the right, General von Herwarth had reached the 

* I have a history of the war, published at Tokio, in the Japanese lan- 
guage, with very original illustrations. One of these has for its title, 
" The King scolding the Army." 


Bistritz, but on the left nothing was yet to be seen of the 
Crown Prince. 

The battle had come to a standstill. In the centre the First 
Army was still fighting round the villages on the Bistritz ; the 
cavalry could not get forward, and the artillery found no good 
position to occupy. The troops had been for five hours under 
the enemy's hottest fire, without food, for there had not been 
time to prepare it. 

Some doubt as to the issue of the battle existed probably in 
many minds ; perhaps in that of Count Bismarck as he offered 
me a cigar. As I was subsequently informed, he took it for a 
good sign that of two cigars I cooUy took the best. 

The King asked me at about this time what I thought of 
the prospects of the battle. I replied, " Your Majesty to-day 
will not only win the battle, but decide the war." 

It could not be otherwise. 

"We had the advantage in numbers,* which in war is never to 
be despised ; and our Second Army must come up in the flank 
and rear of the Austrians, 

At about 1.30 a white cloud was seen on the height crowned 
with trees and visible from afar, on which our field-glasses had 
been centred. It was indeed not yet the Second Army, but 
the smoke of the fire opened on its advance. The joyful shout, 
" The Crown Prince is coming ! " ran through the ranks. I 

* During a long peace the sphere of action of the War Minister's 
department and the General Staff were not distinctly defined. The pro- 
viding for the troops in peace was the function of the former, and in war- 
time a number of official duties which could only be superintended by 
the central authorities at home. Thus the place of the Minister of War 
was not at head-quarters, but at Berlin. The Chief of the General Staff, 
on the other hand, from the moment when the mobilization is ordered, 
assumes the whole responsibility for the marching and transport already 
prepared for during peace, both for the first assembling of the forces and 
for their subsequent employment, for which he has only to ask the con- 
sent of the Commander-in-chief — always, with us, the King. 

How necessary this severance of authority is, I learnt in June, 1866. 
Without my knowledge the order had been given for the Seventh Corps 
to remain on the Rhine. It was only by my representations that the 
16th Division was also moved up into Bohemia, and our numerical supe- 
riority thus brought up to a decisive strength. 


sent the desired news to General von Herwarth, who, meanwhile, 
had carried Problus from the Saxons in spite of a heroic defence. 

The Second Army had started at 7.30 in the morning ; only 
the First Corps had waited till about 9.15. The advance by 
bad roads, in part across the fields, had taken much time ; the 
ridge of hills stretching from Horenowes to Trotina, in the 
march, if efficiently held must be a serious obstacle ; but in 
their eager pursuit of Fransecky's division the enemy's right 
wing had wheeled to the left, so that it lay open to some extent 
to an attack in the rear. 

The Crown Prince's progress was not visible to us, but at 
about haK-past three the King ordered the advance of the 
First Army. 

As we came out of the wood of Sadowa we found still a part 
of the great battery which had so long prevented us from 
debouching there, but the teams and gunners lay dead by the 
wrecked guns. There was nothing else to be seen of the 
enemy for a long way round. 

The Austrian retreat from the position, stormed on both 
sides, had become inevitable, and had, in fact, been effected 
some time since. Their capital artillery, firing on to the last 
moment, had screened their retreat and given the infantry a 
long start. Crossing the Bistritz seriously delayed the prog- 
ress, especially of the cavalry, so that only isolated detach- 
ments came up with the enemy. 

"We rode at a smart gaUop across the wide field of battle, 
without looking much about us at the scene of horror. On 
the other side we joined our three armies, which had at last 
pushed through the narrow place from various directions, and 
got much mixed. It took twenty-four hours to remedy the 
confusion and reform the companies ; pursuit was at that 
moment impossible, but the victory was complete. 

The exhausted men at once sought a spot to rest on in the 
villages or the open country, where best they might. Any- 
thing that came to hand by way of food was of course taken ; 
my wandering ox probably among the rest. The death-cries 
of pigs and geese were heard ; but necessity knows no law, 
and the baggage-wagons were natm-aUy not on the spot. 


The King, too, remained at a hamlet on the field. Only I 
and my two officers had to ride five miles back to Gitschin, 
where the oificers were. 

We had set out at four in the morning, and had been four- 
teen hoiu's in the saddle. In the sudden emergency no one 
had thought of providing liimself with food. An Uhlan of 
the 2nd Regiment had given me part of a sausage ; bread he 
had not got. On om* way back we met the endless train of 
provision and ammunition wagons, often extending all across 
the road. We did not reach our quarters till midnight. There 
was nothing to eat even here at tliis hour, but I was so ex- 
hausted that I thi-ew myself on my bed in my great-coat and 
scarf, and f eU asleep instantly. Next morning new orders had 
to be di-awn out and laid before his Majesty at Horitz. 

The great King had struggled for seven years to reduce the 
might of Austria, and his more fortunate and more powerful 
grandson had achieved it in as many weeks. The campaign 
had proved decisive in the first eight days from June 27th to 
July 3rd. 

The war of 1866 was entered on not because the existence 
of Prussia was threatened, nor in obedience to public opinion 
and the voice of the people : it was a struggle, long foreseen 
and calmly prepared for, recognized as a necessity by the 
Cabinet, not for territorial aggrandizement or material ad- 
vantage, but for an ideal end — the estabhshment of power. 
Not a foot of land was exacted from conquered Austria, but it 
had to renounce all part in the hegemony of Germany. 

The Imperial family alone were to blame if the old Empire 
had now for centuries allowed domestic polities to override 
German national politics. Austria had exhausted her strength 
in conquests south of the Alps, and left the western German 
pro\'inces unprotected, instead of following the road pointed 
out by the course of the Danube. Its centre of gi-avity lay 
out of Germany ; Prussia's lay within it. Prussia felt itself 
called upon and strong enough to assume the leadership of 
the German races. The regrettable but unavoidable exclusion 
of one of them from the new Empire could only be to a smaU 
extent remedied by a subsequent alliance. But Prussia has 


become immeasurably greater without Austria, than it was 
before with Austria. 

But all this has nothing to do with the legends of which I 
was speaking. 

One has been sung in verse, and in fine verse too. 

The scene is Versailles. The French are making a sortie 
from Paris, and the generals, instead of leading their troops, 
are assembled to consider whether head-quarters may safely 
remain any longer at Versailles. Opinions are divided, no 
one dares speak out. The Chief of the General Staff, who is 
above all called on to express his views, remains silent. The 
consternation seems to be great. Only the War Minister rises 
and protests with the greatest emphasis against a measui-e so 
injurious from a pohtical and mihtary point of \'iew as a re- 
moval. He is warmly thanked by the King as being the only 
man who has the courage to speak the truth freely and fear- 

The truth is that, while the King and his whole escort had 
ridden out to the Fifth Army Corps, the Chamberlain in his 
over-anxiety had the horses put to the royal carriages, and this 
became known in the town ; and this indeed may have excited 
all sorts of hopes in the sanguine inhabitants. 

Versailles was protected by four army corps. It never 
entered anybody's head to think of lea\dng it. I can positively 
assert no Council of War was ever held either in 1866 or 

Excepting on the march or on days of battle, an audience 
was regularly held by his Majesty at ten o'clock, at which I, 
accompanied by the Quartermaster- General, laid the latest 
reports and news before him, and made our suggestions on 
that basis. The Chief of the War Cabinet and the Minister 
of War were also present, and, so long as the head-quarters of 
the Third Army were at Versailles, the Crown Prince also, but 
aU merely as listeners. The King occasionally required them 
to give him information on one point or another ; but 1 do not 
remember that he ever asked for advice concerning the opera- 
tions in the field or the suggestions I made. 

These, which I always discussed beforehand with my staff 


oflficers, were, on the contrary, generally maturely weighed by 
his Majesty. He always pointed out with a military eye and 
an invariably correct estimate of the position, all the objections 
that might be raised to their execution ; but as in war every 
step is beset with danger, the plans laid before him were in- 
variably adopted. 





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